Above and Below the Pond

We decided to head out to investigate at a local nature center today! It’s finally warm out and we’ve been reading about pond ecosystems above and below the water. So, what better way to spend the morning than seeing and exploring what we’ve been reading about!

These are some of the books we’ve been taking a look at:

0505151236We were able to see turtles, wild flowers, fish, skate bugs, owls and geese.0505150956

Luke wondered if this was a vanilla bean flower?!

Luke wondered if this was a vanilla bean flower?!

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Two character that were very entertaining!

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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

The Mystery of Chocolate!

This morning we were up and ready to go on a Chocolate Factory tour with our local homeschool group we just recently became members of. Before heading out I asked the kids if they knew where chocolate came from, and how the process works.

 

They were pretty much familiar with it all, but I had them view this video anyway and I’m glad I did as it turned out- even though we were going as a group, it was self-guided. It was a small room off of the shop that had examples and some machinery to look at and the process from the bean to the bar along the wall to read as we walked up the ramp to the viewing area of the factory. (Not what any of us were picturing) we were thinking a walk through the factory, but it was fun just as well. And, free samples to taste- no complaints! They had many flavors I had never heard of, we took some more home to try- we will be going back to try more soon!

The Hauser Chocolatier

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Winter Nature Walk

Today was one of those days where sitting and concentrating was NOT going to happen! They had a lot of energy and after trying a few planned lessons and threw my hands up and said- get your snow gear we are going out for a walk!

We headed out just as the snowflakes started falling! It was so pretty and the boys were able to catch as see the geometric shapes in the snowflakes as they landed. They were so excited, it was the perfect kind of snow for a hike.

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We headed out and just went down the street to a place called Barn Island. We walked through the marshes and saw some birds and continued catching snowflakes. It didn’t take long for the boys to find the ice under the snow patches and begin to explore!

They tried to break it, slide on it, dance on it, and observed how the water moved underneath and the ice and how they could eventually use the broken ice pieces as a tool to break the rest of the ice! They had a blast and discovered quite a bit about the ice and observed changes from when we were there in the fall.

They got more out of their day here than at the kitchen table for sure!!

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Catching Flakes!

Catching Flakes!

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"look how it cracks!"

“look how it cracks!”

Ice Dancing!!

Ice Dancing!!

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“Look at this one! It’s overflowing and coming out on top!”

Digging in with "ice picks"

Digging in with “ice picks”

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Photo Collage of our Fall Field Trip

We headed out to Haley Farm to see some foliage and explore some nature by hand since we have been reading about it all week! Not the sunniest day to go, but we enjoyed our nature walk just the same- drizzle and all, we got to see and explore a lot! Seeds, Leaves, Deer, water,reeds, marsh and puddles!

Observing the foliage and seeds

Observing the foliage and seeds

Pretty Purple

Pretty Purple

boys will be boys- sword fighting with reeds!

boys will be boys- sword fighting with reeds!

Liam found and opened up a seed to find it smiling!

Liam found and opened up a seed to find it smiling!

Lots of seeds here!

Lots of seeds here!

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The puddle player!

The puddle player!

Wildlife Refuge Walk/Photo Contest Prep

Beautiful morning for a shoreline hike, perfect temperature and clear skies! We headed out to a local National Wildlife Refuge and found an abundance of beauty everywhere we looked! The boys were on the look out for photo ops, they are interested in entering an amateur photo contest put on by our states refuges.

I handed my camera over to the boys and they found more than enough to take photos of! We were also able to spot some wildlife as well as beautiful flora and both boys were able to identify most of them, as well as some lovely landscapes.

liam 2 fav

Liam spotted this yellow finch and was so excited!

This is trip #1- they want to go again and take some more and then pick their final choices.  Feel free to leave a comment on your favorites! :)- Not all of these are entry possibilities, but figured we’d share them since it was so pretty there today!

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Ocean view!

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Crab enjoying his lobster dinner under the sea!

Birds on rocks

Birds on rocks

Golden Rod

Golden Rod

 

Yellow Finch on the branch

Yellow Finch on the branch

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beautiful berries

beautiful berries

landscape lovely-ness!

landscape lovely-ness!

Adventures that-ROCK!

Today we packed up the backpack with a bunch of supplies and headed out to a local state park.  We went to Hurd State Park, also know as “split rock”  In the granite ledges of the split rock are veins of feldspar which was once mined extensively in Connecticut.

Liam has been studying the industrial revolution and reading a book about mining the past few weeks, so I had the idea to go explore rocks!rocksin the backpack: safety goggles, hammers,cloth,magnets,notebook, paints and brushes, paperbags and insect repelant.

What did we learn: rocks and minerals,  some of CT.’s history, navigation, seasonal changes, geography, navigation,  reading and math skills and team work!

As we entered the park, Liam was in charge of reading the park map as I drove. Of course, Luke chimed in too. We found our parking space at the head of the trail and I had both boys take another look at the trail map and tell me which direction we needed to head to be near the Connecticut River.

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We headed down and found  a beautiful spot to set up our materials. After grabbing their brown bags they headed over to collect rocks at the rivers edge.

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Once they had collected all the rocks they wanted, they came back to the picnic table to investigate! They broke them open using a hammer and had a blast looking at the texture and colors on the insides. We also checked to see if any had any magnetism to them…they did not.  Luke proceeded to paint a few of his and then measured all of his rocks.

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Luke spent time exploring in a variety of ways, while Liam really enjoyed breaking open all his rocks and said he found some  crystals and lots of pieces of mica in his!

We had a quick picnic after they were through exploring and headed back to the car and  over to the Split Rock trail.

Luke was our leaded and pointed out the yellow trail mark to us. Along the way they both spotted a woodpecker, frog and granite and more mica, plus a few other goodies!

Great fun and lots of learning! And…I love how they looked with their safety goggles! 🙂

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Landmarks, Art & Architecture Unit-Week 1

For our last Unit of this year, my oldest requested to study Famous Buildings, Landmarks and Architecture. I loved the idea and got busy right away requesting a bunch of Library books!

Book List:

Architecture A Visual History by James Neal

Joan Steiner Look-A-likes:  Discover a Land where things are not as they appear… and Around the World ; An Album of Amazing Postcards

Monumental Versus by J. Patrick Lewis (poetry)

13 Buildings Children Should Know by Anette Roeder

Buildings in Disguise by Joan Marie Arbogast

Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting

Using both these books and worksheets found on Education.com in a “Let’s Travel” series we set out to visit the Landmarks!

                                                   First Stop: England!

We viewed and became familiar with Westminster Abbey, Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London and Big Ben.

History/Social Studies: Landmarks of England. Where is England? Using the World Atlas to locate England.

Language Arts: Copy work and discussed the following words:

England, London, Europe, Queen, British Monarchy, Gables

Math: My youngest built with blocks that had two landmarks on them : Stonehenge and the London Eye. Liam used the geo-boards to create the London Eye as well as some multiplication problems.

england 001blockengland 004 luke build

england 005 eye geoboard

 

 

 

 

Art: Re-created the look of Stonehenge with rocks from around the yard and constructed Tower Bridge with Clay and Pipe Cleaners.

england 006 stonehenge

Computer: Liam loves (to say the least) the game Minecraft, each day as we finish learning about some Landmarks he is re-creating them in “his world” within the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Stop: Greece!

Using the books -Architecture A Visual History and 13 Buildings Children Should Know and the World Atlas we took a look at The Parthenon!

History/Social Studies: Locate Greece on the Map. Using a worksheet from the same Travel set at Education.com, he matched the Landmarks to the locations on the map of Greece; The Parthenon, Meteora, Santorini, Delphi Theater and Mount Olympus, followed by a series of True and False questions.

Language Arts: Copy work of the following words: Athens, Greece, Greek Antiquity, Columns, The Parthenon, Doric, Iconic and Corinthian.

Art: After discussing the 3 types of Columns : Doric, Iconic and Corinthian- today’s art was photography! We drove around our local towns and looked for these types of columns! Here are the photos he took:

Greece 003Greece 004Greece 005Greece 006

 

 

 

Luke did watercolor painting on printouts of the columns and Liam also designed his own Parthenon on his game minecraft :Greece 001Greece 002

Science: Optical Illusions! We viewed a video and took a closer look at the design of the columns after reading about little tricks architects use in their designs that are not immediately apparent. The end columns are slightly thicker than the others, because they are better-illuminated than the others, it makes them appear thinner!

Math: Multiplication/Division using the pillars for math word problems. Measuring with a measuring tape to see just how tall the pillars stand.

pops bridgeNow in The United States!

We began with the story Pop’s Bridge about the Golden Gate Bridge. Followed by a closer look at The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, The Chrysler Building and The Guggenheim Museum using the book 13 Building Children Should Know.

Language Arts: Poetry: Monumental Versus book by J. Patrick Lewis -I read the poem “Empire State Building” we then reflected on it and discussed the form of  First Person Narrative.  

The following were today’s copy work vocab/spelling words: San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, Modernism, Spiral.

Science: We discussed the design of the Guggenheim Museum and Frank Llyod Wright’s design which is a long spiral-shaped ramp in which visitors take an elevator to the top and simply walk down.  As a repeat from Greece we also talked about optical Illusions again as the building gets progressively wider towards the top.

Math: The term “Cross-Section” as well as some Division lapbook problems.

Art: Frank Llyod Wright as well as Joseph Strauss, designer of the Golden Gate Bridge, were both persistent against critics and branched out in a new direction. With this thought, I asked Liam to design his own “cutting edge, Modern, unlike anything seen before” structure!

He designed a Robot shaped building that would be a Museum for Electronics, Video games and Robots.robot desing

Next week Visits: France, Brazil, Thailand, Spain, New Zealand!

Week Three: India, Denmark, Portugal, China and Australia!

Egypt, Literature and State Government

A busy, busy week around here! We kicked this week off with two new stories- Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel and Blueberries for Sal.  We continued studying Ancient Egypt, with a field trip to the local children’s museum featuring Egypt! Then, Wednesday brought us a trip to Connecticut’s State Capitol and Connecticut’s Old State House.

Language Arts:

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel– we watched the story this week and both boys loved it and continued to sing the songs around the house! I chose this as it went along with our current science topic.

Writing: List of the different types of machines

Discussed: Setting, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax and Denouement

Worksheet: Personification

Copywork: Cursive Writing

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Luke’s story this week was Blueberries for Sal. book

Language Arts: Focus on the Letter B, What sound the Letter B makes and watched a video on the Letter B on Starfall and a video with cookie monster featuring the letter B.

Science: Continuation with Hydrogen and a field trip to the Science Center. Liam received a science kit from his recent birthday, so we took that out and experimented with water and air pressure, trying out different scenarios. Liam also played a survival game in which he had to turn a liquid into a gas in order to clean the drinking water on an excursion!

sciencewatergas liquid solid

 

Music: In focusing on Ancient Egypt, we took a look at Ancient Music as well. Where did music first begin? In Nature! This website features making music with nature- animals, weather and seasonal sounds! They had a blast with this!

Math: Liam continued to work on his multiplication tables. For Living Math we worked off the literature and talked about square polygons and searched around the house to find some. He also drew up a blueprint and we all played Monster Math game. He also tried his hand in an Egyptian Math game placing the time periods in chronological order.egyptmath  Another interactive game was building a pyramid using angles and navigating a boat down the Nile River.

math anglesblueprint

Monster Math:monster math

The winning monster!

The winning monster!

Runner Ups Monster

Runner Ups Monster

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke counted with “blueberries” and used beans in the sensory table with measuring cups and measuring spoons. I used the words- half full, and a whole cup while he filled and emptied the cups. We also read the book One Brown Bunny this week.

brown bunny

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Art: Paper Mache Egyptian Tomb,  Ice Cube painting and painting with Blueberries

blue paintegy tomb

 

 

 

 

 

History and Social Studies/Geography: Ancient Egypt and The State of Connecticut.

At the Science museum the boys got to see artifacts from Egypt and did a scavenger hunt for certain items, dug for artifacts and made a boat to sail on the Nile River. We also went in the planetarium and watched a movie about polar bears and the arctic.

egypt scavegypt dignile

 

 

 

 

On our trip to the State Capitol building we toured with our homeschool hiker group. We were led through the building and heard about the tree branches of gvt. Saw the legislative office and House of Representatives office. We all took a turn in the “wish chair” in the Legislative office in which our tour guide said is a once in a life time opportunity, many do not get to sit in this chair, especially on a tour, since most days this room in is progress. (Luke said he wished for a turtle, Liam wished for our family to live / be together forever and I wished for our family to always be happy and healthy)

The building was beautiful, with stencils, statues and amazing architecture!

During dinner I printed out this quiz from the tour to see what Liam had learned/retained and he did excellent! All but two of the questions he knew! (even though he thought it was “a bit boring”)

We then headed over to Connecticut’s Old State House. This building was all historical highlights on Connecticut. We started in the Hands-On History center, where the kids could dress up in historical clothes, run a farmer’s market and go inside an old camp site.  The next floor featured History all around us, a few of the boys built a replica of the city following the coordinates on an over-sized floor map. We saw and engine from 1912 and tried on costumes, saw Twain’s Bike and did some interactive videos on the history of Hartford! Upstairs we toured the Senate and House rooms.

state housegstate hoouse a state house