Building and Engineering!

Imagination at work! That is what’s been going on here…. I have a busy 5 yr old engineer who has been constructing famous buildings with his blocks and constructing roller coasters and planning how to make an angry bird cart! I have an 11 yr old who is learning how to code apps! Busy boys- that’s what I like to see (along with playing outdoors of course)

The talk of New York city prompted the construction of buildings- I set up an exploration table in his room hoping to foster some independent learning last week, with the plan of changing it out and rotating materials as warranted.  Using the Montessori cards I found on pinterest- he went straight to work!

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Love the lego statue of liberty!

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honey bee and comb design

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And...here is the app. Liam learned to code today (Flappy Birds)- if you’d like to try and play it real quick! Great program – Code.org

Even simplified for kids as young as first grade to get started with a pre- reader level!

Wood Frog Class!

Now that all the snow has been gone for about a week and a half, the wood frogs nature class was finally a go!

These are some really neat frogs! They dwell in the northern most climates and can shut down their bodies for the winter months and then “bring themselves back to life” in the spring.

At our class today we all headed down to the vernal pool and though the frogs were quiet, we did get to see eggs and some spring growth happening. Liam had learned in the forestry class a few weeks ago that if you count a sprig of pines, you will then be able to name the type of pine tree it came from. Meaning 5 pine needles= a 5 letter word= WHITE- white pine.

counting pine needles

counting pine needles

spring growth- the shape of them caught our eye

spring growth- the shape of them caught our eye

Looking for frogs

Looking for frogs

Observing eggs! About 500 in this picture

Observing eggs! About 500 in this picture

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eggs floating on the surface of the pool

eggs floating on the surface of the pool

Hiking to the Harbor Seals!

We headed out to Rome Point this morning hoping once more to see some harbor seals. It was sunny and the tide was out, so our hopes were high….

The boys each worked on math and then we all listened to the audio book of Same Sun Here as we drove. We’re on disk 4 and Liam is loving this one! He said he’s sad it’s almost over, he’d love to listen to the story for a longer period of time.

Overview

In this extraordinary novel in letters, an Indian immigrant girl in New York City and a Kentucky coal miner’s son find strength and perspective by sharing their true selves across the miles.

Meena and River have a lot in common: fathers forced to work away from home to make ends meet, grandmothers who mean the world to them, and faithful dogs. But Meena is an Indian immigrant girl living in New York City’s Chinatown, while River is a Kentucky coal miner’s son. As Meena’s family studies for citizenship exams and River’s town faces devastating mountaintop removal, this unlikely pair become pen pals, sharing thoughts and, as their camaraderie deepens, discovering common ground in their disparate experiences. With honesty and humor, Meena and River bridge the miles between them, creating a friendship that inspires bravery and defeats cultural misconceptions.

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Once at the nature preserve we began our hike and finally got to watch the seals! (mostly through the binoculars) I counted about 40 of them! They were all on the rocks sunning themselves, unfortunately my camera doesn’t have the greatest zoom lens, but I can see them in the photos.

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Wednesday’s Treasures!

A 3 mile hike that helped reground me to my homeschooling roots and reasons why I’m on this journey! (Especially after this long…long winter)

While we collected all kinds of trinkets; shells, crab pieces, sea glass and cool rocks- I couldn’t help but think what a “treasure” this time is that we spend together and how much we all get out of days like this! My youngest is totally at the imagination/dramatic play stage and had a running personal dialogue the entire time we walked! I love to hear his imagination at work! My oldest, I’m just happy he still likes to chat with me as we walk and that he found a little hobby to keep him occupied as we walk. They both always find discoveries and yell with excitement on our weekly walks- dare I declare Wednesday’s as “Wednesday Treasure Walks” I’ve really been searching for a new journal type style of blogging and I think this may be it!? -Just a quick excerpt of the “treasures”  of our nature hikes/times together that really count…..hmmm, going to think that over- we can all blog about projects and curriculum- but, honestly as much as we’re all different, we’re all pretty much the same….(I’m bored of it) This seems to me. a great way/idea for a personal story journal, scrapbook etc. and truly why I began and continue to homeschool in the first place! – The treasured moments- not the projects and curriculum choices!

Any way here is the photos of our trinkets and time together just having fun together:

Napatree Point

Napatree Point

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Stealthy ninjas practicing balance!

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Observing the sand texture from wind and waves

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Trinkets we picked up!

Trinkets we picked up!

Created a science discovery container!

Created a science discovery container!

Treasures to examine as we wish!

Treasures to examine as we wish!

Search and you shall Find- free resources!

As I searched around for some new materials on Math, Science and History (The Industrial Revolution) and Sign Language.  I came across some great sites and free downloads!

I was most excited about this science find! We started using them yesterday and will continue using them until we finished along with our nature studies.

They are free download-able textbooks, read and write workbooks with lab books!

McGraw Hill

Middle School Science Texts:

Holt Science & Math textbooks & workbooks PDF

A great history resource find called Digital History entails history from 1942 through 2010, a digital timeline with history for each era; lesson plan ideas, film, music, events and people and virtual exhibits…a a whole lot more!

Other resources I found:

Math: We played on this site yesterday, Geometry and anglesBBC Questionaut it also has English and Science topics.

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Kid- Friendly Inventions for my youngest who says he wants to be an engineer.

Illuminations– great site for math- lessons and interactives- grades: Prek- 12

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Sign Language– We’ve decided to ditch Spanish and learn sign language. This is a great place to begin with videos and games. I know our library also holds many of her DVD’s. It is geared for preschool, but we used it for learning to sign the alphabet and then played the matching game.

Sign Language- Kidcourses

This is an ABC min course- each letter of the alphabet with a rhyme, video and handouts.

Just thought I’d share, enjoy browsing!

Wandering in the Woods!

After doing our normal routine this morning; journals, reading and Liam working on his research paper, Luke and I browsing through his new Pathway Readers and did some Polar bear Unit work, I couldn’t wait to get outside!! It was over 40 degrees and sunny! Spring Fever!!!! Get me outside!

We headed over to our local Refuge in Charlestown and hit the trails. The sun felt great, there is still a lot of snow but the trail was pretty packed down.  It felt great to be outside and not freezing. I warned the boys that if they were somewhat quiet today we’d probably be lucky to see some wildlife.

The trail was only a mile round trip so, on our way back the boys took off their coats and laid back basking in the sun and listening to the birds. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by a bunch of black- capped chickadees and saw two different woodpeckers working, and a tuft titmouse who was busy flying from branch to branch. They were in awe and loved every minute of it.

I think we all just laid there on our coats for about an half an hour just observing and listening. They met a snowman along the way and played various games, marvelled at how soft the birch trees were and kept repeating we need to do this more often and when are we coming back?! (I always have to drag them out for hikes, then they have a blast)

We noticed trees are budding!!

We noticed trees are budding!!

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Quick photo op of the black -capped chickadee

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Found a snowman friend along the trail. Boys added a nose and Luke checked on him and said good-bye

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I understand this song- Right Brain learning!

What a morning filled with beautiful bird songs(Bird Biology) and a super math suprise gem(Right Brain Math)!

Learning and memorizing multiplication facts has been an ongoing struggle or perhaps a topic of boredom for my oldest. He would rather do fractions and decimals or measurements and graphs- Ahh, all of these are much more “visual” concepts… Now I’m starting to see why this topic was a broken record!

In researching yet another way to get him to memorize and get these down pat in a flash, I discovered:

MisterNumbers Pattern Play Math

A visual and structural approach to multiplication for Right Brained learners! I watched a couple of his videos and thought, WOW! this is so awseome. I signed up for the 3 free worksheets and had him watch the videos and do the sheets along with the video. He looked over at me half way through the video wide-eyed and said- this guy is a genius!

This is what one of the worksheets looks like, but if you’re at all interested watch the video to see the patterns of 3,6,9 times and the 7’s. It’s a simple tic, tac, toe pattern that incorporates all three tables.

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We’ll be purchasing the workbook, it’s not expensive at all! Pattern Play Math-…… You’re playing our song!

Speaking of Songs; Bird Biology was the other highlight of our day! We headed over to The CornellLab of Orinthology to learn all about Birdsong! This was an interactive lesson with 7 steps.

What is a Songbird?

Songbirds learn too

Their reperetoires include songs and calls

Songbirds have local dialects

Songbirds are vocal gymnasts

They sing at dawn

Some sing two notes at once

Birds sing to defend and impress

Here a bird singing? It’s probably a male

After reading through these facts and hearing the Songbirds, we then played Songbirds in action and trained for Bird Song Hero!

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Double sided voice box

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Listen and match the visual

Then before heading outside we did a little watercolor fun art with singing birds!

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Luke’s -Titled “The Bell Song”

Web of Life- Our Homeschool Class today

We headed out to our National Wildlife Refuge for our homeschool program this morning. The topic was called Web of Life an ecology lesson on how everything is connected to each other and is dependent upon one another!

In short, the class topics: (it was a 2 hour class)

The Ranger started with asking the children to color various animals and plants he handed out and then to gather in a circle with their cards.

0224151157_Burst01The sun card went in the middle of the circle, then each child who had a plant went next as they are directly effected by the sun, (string was given to child from sun to plant) then they were to yell out if they had a plant eater,then an animal that would eat the plant eater and so on, as they built and connected the string- it was the visual connection, building the Web of Life!

The Ranger then showed various skulls, taking a close look at the placement of the eyes. Giving the rhyme of “Eyes to the side, like to hide” -( prey ) it gives them a wider field of vision to see predators. They need to be able to see forewards, sidewards, backwards and upwards incase a predator attacks.

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 The children then observed the three ducks, the names of each- The Golden Eye, The Wood Duck and the Merganser.  Then had a lengthy discussion on the shapes and sizes of the bills and why they are built in such a way, especially the Merganser who has a saw like teeth for catching his prey.

0224151149After the classroom session was done we headed out to watch the frogs being fed and did a scavenger hunt in the visitor center. They had a blast, learned a lot and can’t wait for the next classes! Liam loved it so much and walked over to the Ranger and shook his hand, thanked him for such a great time! Before, leaving Luke brought his money and wanted to buy a bird he saw last time. He was so excited and built him a nest to live in once we got home.

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0224151300 Once home each of them did some math on Khan Academy- Luke earned “Geek of the Week” , High Five in Math and Making Progress badges. Liam earned Finger or Toes in Math, Five is Alive and Challenge Accepted! badges;)

One more STEM class this afternoon at the library to go!

Birds of North America- Art & Nature Science project today!

John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, artist and naturalist known for his studies, drawings and paintings of North American birds.

We have been studying his book, The Birds of America, which has over 400 reproductions in it.

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After viewing many of the birds and listening to a biography of Audubon, we started an art project; transparency bird prints!

We used our own Birds of the Northeast book, chose a bird, using transparency sheets, lay it on top of the chosen bird, color with water-based markers and made prints on to white construction paper!

Supplies- bird book, markers, transparency sheets, damp sponge (not very wet at all or maker will bleed!) construction or printer paper

Here’s the steps and the prints:

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Choose a photo of the bird and trace and color in with markers on the clear sheet-

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Try blending as many colors together as possible, when you’re done- dampen the white sheet of paper and press down the transparency sheet (marker side down)

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Carefully lift off and view your print! We did touch up a few areas with the marker to make the image sharper afterwards, but they came out beautifully!

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Ancient India and the art form of Rangoli- Amazing!

Rangoli is a folk art from India in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. Traditionally, Rangoli is made on a square grid in North India and on a hexagonal grid in South India while Onam Rangolis are typically circular.

We tried our hand at following a couple of grids using chalk on construction paper while watching a demonstration on Youtube. It was trickier than it looked! It’s a beautiful art that we were in awe of!

Here are creations:

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