Winter Hike at Salmon River and Day Pond State Park

Yesterday we headed out to go hiking with our Happy Homeschool Hiker group. The weather turned out to be perfect, being mostly sunny and not as windy as it has been with high’s in the upper 30’s .  I t was a pretty big turn out as everyone in the group was able to make it to the hike. We started at Salmon River by the covered bridge, it was recently restored and one of the last covered bridges in Ct.

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We walked through the bridge to the trail head and it didn’t take long for all the kids to start throwing rocks into the river, breaking the iced edge.

 

The bridge had a few windows inside to look out and view the river.hike bridge

 

 

 

 

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We headed up the trail along the side of the river, it was a little bit snow covered and pretty steep. The older children are really great about helping out the younger ones. Everyone was hiking and pointing out plants and rocks along the way, small conversations with each other- it is truly fantastic how well all the children in this group get along, help each other and have fun with made up games along the way.

hikeWe reached the look out at the top of the trail and then headed back down to the cars. Next up was a hike not to far down the road at Day Pond State Park. As we arrived at our next hike, all the kids were so excited to see a man ice fishing and that they were too allowed to go out on the ice. This was the first time on a frozen pond for a lot of them being that our winters have not been that cold lately. A few wipe outs! After feeling it out and getting accustomed to the slippery underfoot, they had  great fun running and sliding on their feet. A few enjoyed some popcorn while waiting for the others.

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After some free time we headed down the next trail. It was a bit muddy and many spots had water running through, covered in ice. It didn’t take long before a few adults and children started to grumble about being wet and cold. The sun was starting to hide behind the trees at this point so we did about half the trail and turned back.  Hopefully next week we’ll head out again!gangsnow hike

 

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished~Lao Tzu

Last week our hiking friends contacted us, as we had not been able to join the group for our weekly hikes for a couple of months now. Gratefully, they were flexible and accommodating to our availability this week and we met for a two-part hike yesterday.  The quote “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” fits perfectly as our hike was one of the longest yet; 7hrs on the trails!

-Haley Farm State Park and Bluff Point State Park-

Upon our arrival our friends were there to meet us as well as a new family! It was great to see our older family and we immediately hit it off  with the new family.  We set out and the boys all ran ahead, grabbed sticks, talked about legos and such 🙂 It wasn’t too long before they spotted a nesting area in the woods and took guesses on who’s home it may be. We then stopped by the water’s edge and they climbed along the rocks- the imagination and conversations never stopped!

Next, they all spotted a huge boulder to explore and had a quick quiz on what type of rock it was and how it was formed. A few of the puddles surrounding the rock had baby spiders  in them! They all loved this find!

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We headed out took a new path that led us to a foot bridge over the train tracks and as luck would have it, the train came by. As we continued walking the boys continued with games; hiding behind trees, climbing rocks spotting different specimens to examine and throwing rocks into a small body of water we came across. We stopped for a snack, explored some rocks and shells then turned back to head towards the cars….again many stops for exploring, conversations and climbing rocks!

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Once back at the cars, we decided to head over to Bluff Point about five minutes down the road for a picnic lunch. It was only down the street, but the difference in temperature was drastic! We all had to bundle up as the wind was pretty constant and cold by the picnic tables. As we all cleaned up and re-packed our bags for our next hike, the boys had gathered their legos and started a new games chasing each other around and making plans for a get together to trade pieces with eacNew Image09h other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once everyone was ready (many bathroom trips and last minute adjustments later) we headed out to make our way to the Bluff. As we came to the first beach area, the boys found many rocks to collect, jellyfish and clam shells to explore, etc. This stayed true for the entire walk! We kept joking that we were going to be hiking back in the dark! A normal hours walk out to the bluff turned into  about a two hour walk- We finally made it to the bluff, took some photos and then headed down to the rocky coast just down below for some more explorations and a lesson on types of rocks as one of the parents has vast knowledge on rocks and their formations.

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At this point the sun was starting to set, so we started to head back. We were using flashlights by the time we made it to the parking lot! It was a beautiful sunset and a great way to have spent our day! A round of hugs for all, plans to get together soon-we were off! Nothing was rushed, and everything was accomplished!

 

 

 

 

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Autumnal Color Hunt

The day began with some online learning with use of the site Head of the Class. We had started using it awhile back and had forgotten about until my sister, who also homeschools reminded me about it recently. Both boys love it as a warm up to start off the day. After that we moved on to some dice math games, my oldest also set up a “store” in his room, so we did some money exchange there and had fun with the prices of his merchandise- nothing in his store was less than 1,000.00! 😉 As he stated, it is all valuable items!

He then wanted to do some pencil drawings in his art journal, so while he did that I researched some outdoor activities for later on and made a train track with my youngest.

In history we’ve been focusing on the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. We took out many books from the library, The Louisiana Purchase A History Just for Kids book is great, a good read.  AHC also has a great Benjamin Franklin cartoon series on youtube that my oldest really enjoys.  In reading about the  Purchase, we came across Sacagawea and Louis and Clark. We read the story Seaman:The Dog who explored the West with Louis and Clark, last year so he was familiar with them.  This week I took out the book Who was Sacagawea? by Judith Bloom Fradin as we came across her name in our purchase book. We read the first chapter in this book,  and so far it is an easy gentle read!

With the sun finally out early in the morning and the leaves so colorful, I really wanted to get outside for a nature lesson! I love the site Nature Detectives and we have a great book 50 Nature Projects for Kids, between the two I got the idea for a color nature hunt.

I made color blocks on a piece of paper and we headed outside to find things to match the colors! They were really into it and being extremely particular in their findings,if it didn’t match exactly they didn’t want to keep it! 😉

We ended up matching just about every single color and lots of different shades of colors. Leaves, acorns, grass, rocks, wildflowers, the sky and the river were some of our finds.

I also came across an activity called Woodland Potions on the nature detectives site.  The idea is while out in the woods gather items to make a potion, using a container add collected items, water and a stick to stir, make up a rhyme and then pour out your potion and make a wish! While I headed off to work my sister took the boys on a walk to gather these items and spent time playing at the playground. Today we’ll work on a rhyme to go along with his gathered items and see what he can think up!? I continually strive to find new was to incorporate writing skills for him and hoping this one is a fun and creative one.

Heifer International Farm Visit

We visited Overlook Farm again today for the Harvest Festival. This is a working Learning Center that is part of Heifer International. In a previous post called Moo-ving project you can view our other visit.

Today we had the best experience with the kids learning hands on global issues concerning hunger and poverty. The farm had hay rides, lots of activities for the children, scavenger hunts and we walked through to explore the homes in the Global Village and learn about traditional harvest celebrations in Peru, Poland, Kenya and more. There was also a delicious lunch prepared from the farms products! My oldest was really able to see the process from garden to table! Though I really didn’t think about “schooling” today we walked away with a lot of new knowledge! All of us!

Heifer offers free Global Education kits. They are amazing- I speak from experience! We took action after using the kit and raised money to buy a few Living Gifts!

If you are able to take a field trip, please do so! Here are the locations. We live about and hour and a half away, but so worth the trip every time!

Older children and those of 18 and older can volunteer and live on or off the farm! My oldest who’s eight already has said many times, he wants to volunteer as soon as he is old enough!

The Scavenger Hunt took us a while! This was one of the clues : There are many purple plants in the garden, and although I’m one of the smallest, none of the other purple plants smell as good as I do or have prettier flowers. If you can find the other purple plants, write them down but be sure to  get one leaf from me and smell it! I taste particularly good with tomatoes and mozzarella.

Really make you think and look closely! We got all 12 of them! Whew!

Garden Scavenger Hunt

View of the cattle

Making a bees wax candle

Playing Instruments Together

Guinea pig in Peru

Learning to weave a bookmark

Napatree Point & Math Game Mistake

In planning for today’s lesson, I read ahead in our newly bought book Math for Smarty Pants by Marilyn Burns, I found a the game $1.00 word search. The $1.00 word search is to find words in the book that equal a dollar by giving each letter a cent value: A = 1 cent, B= 2 cents and so on. So, I thought it would be fun and a great way to combine spelling and math together if we came up with our own words and added them up to see if we could make a $1.00 word.  I printed out the alphabet and labeled each letter with the appropriate value.

Within the chapter is says there is a Halloween word worth one dollar so he started coming up with words and adding them up, he came close, but no dollar! “Mummies” was the closest we came but it was over by one cent! After several more words, he decided to line them all up in ABC order…. Aha!! Mom! you missed a number here! – I had skipped a number while labeling them! So, Mummies was the word after all since I had made the mistake in numbering them!! ;p Guess I do not do my best prep work at 6am! But it was fun just the same and he actually learned a double lesson…. one number off can throw the whole thing!

Next we watched a video on New England which tied in both History and Geography.  The tour guide on the video stopped at many different historical places within New England and talked to the heritage of the area.

Moving on: At our most recent visit to the library, the Librarian asked what grade my oldest was in, to which I responded, Well, we homeschool, so he’s 3/4th grade I’d say.  She says, I thought you might with this selection of book ;)- would he be interested in joining our book club for 4/5 ers? There is a group of about 11 of that 8 are homeschoolers. Sure! So, we read the first chapter in his book club book titled Dial – a – Ghost by Eva Ibbotson.

We then got ready and headed out to hike along Napatree Point Conservation Area, a trail along the Narragansett Bay and the Ocean. The area is filled with history and provides a habitat for many species/bird watching.  It was absolutely beautiful, quiet and peaceful at this time of year.

Just a few locals were out and about. On the beach only a few other people were roaming and picnicking/dog walking. We did get to see many birds, sea creatures, shells and rocks as well as tons of beautiful butterflies!

A Prime Nature Walk

 

Tossed aside all planned lessons today and went for a nature walk. It was a bit drizzly outside, but not enough to deter us from heading outdoors. We went to Haley Farm State Park an old shoreline farm. So glad we did! We saw a ton of interesting things and it was filled with beautiful wildflowers too.

I brought along our book, The Handbook of Nature Study, so we could identify things along the way, like this Cup-shaped puffball mushroom.  Luke who’s 2yrs,  pointed out the next one when I asked him which one matched in the book. I was impressed that he got it!

 

There was tons of Milkweed growing along the path and we took an up- close look at a Milkweed pod as well! Felt the texture and read some facts from the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we made our way around we found some great rocks to climb on and take a short break.

 

 

 

 

By the shoreline was very pretty and the boys explored a bit and went right down to the water.

The next thing was spotted by Liam, he found these two cocoons, not sure what type of cocoons they are, but they were neat to see!

Now this last find was so cool! As we were just about to end our trip we spotted this Orange Garden Spider and web! Again, we grabbed the book to find out exactly what we were looking at and read some facts on this spider and it’s cool pattern in the web!

Needless to say, this was a great way to start the day today! We came home and did some art activities with leaves we collected.

 

 

Outdoor History Museum-Old Sturbridge Village

 We stepped back in time as we visited Old Sturbridge Village, a journey back to the late 1700’s- early 1800’s.

This outdoor museum is set as a typical village of it’s time, centered around the main village, featuring shops, farms, homes,bank, school and the meetinghouses.  Historians in costume, water powered mills, crafts and activities, demonstrations and a ride in the stagecoach are just some of the highlights!

This was a perfect opportunity to ground in those book lessons we’ve been working on so far this year about life in the colonies.  Several times I used the phrase “remember we read about this…” 🙂

 

Historians in costume, carrying out daily activities of the 19th century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boys taking an old time photo op as we first arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were able to view both target shooting and a musket demonstration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the meetinghouse we listened to the organ and learned more on the Star Spangled Banner- it was originally a British drinking song! Both myself and my husband were surprised to hear this! I never knew this. We all learned something form this trip!

Outside the center meetinghouse, Liam tried his hand at the game hoop and stick. A group of children were all having fun racing against each other trying to keep the hoop from falling over and they ran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took a ride around the village center in the Stagecoach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited just about every house, the school, the mill the blacksmith shop, shoe shop, the Tavern and the tin shop.  The Salem Towne house and a couple of the others have such beautiful moldings and wood work, that I personally could spend the whole day just looking at it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some fun on the playground and outside the school house playing jump rope and trying some stilts.

We also took a short boat ride, and did a lot of walking as there is so much too see and do! We had a great time and we were all exhausted by the time we left!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aviation and Egrets

This weekend the boys each made their own walking sticks, so we had planned to go for a hike today. It was the perfect morning, a little chilly, sunny and a nice way to ease back into the week. My oldest, also became excited about riding his bicycle this weekend too, so I figured we’d make a morning of it and go for and bike and hike at the local beach state park.

( PVC pipes, wrapped in camo duct tape! perfect size each of them and light weight! Dad drilled a hole and added rope for them)

As we entered the park we saw some wildlife in the salt marshes. After the bike ride we walked over to the observation area- which prompted the question of the day: Are these birds cranes or Egrets? and, What is the difference?

We headed down one of the roads first so Liam could bike and Luke was a bit sleepy so I pushed him in the stroller as we headed towards the water. Very peaceful and quiet, towards the end of the road Luke was ready to walk so he got out and had fun chasing after Liam.

We made it back to the car, grabbed the walking sticks and made our way over to the observation deck, where we were able to observe many birds in the marsh. Liam read aloud to us all the info on the board about the habitats, birds and their diets/nesting habits. He was most excited to see the one bird with it’s baby and wanted to use the camera to take a picture of them himself.

Once we returned home, had some lunch, it was time to start some investigating! Were those birds Egrets or Cranes?! We have a few bird field guides so we began to look through, even with those it was had to distinguish the two. We pulled up some info on the internet also, but it was still hard to be 100% sure! Many similarities, except for the beaks. The birds we saw, one had an orange color and one had a black colored beak. So, with our best guesstimate… we think we saw both? Liam has a nature journal that we add to once every so often, I asked him to make an entry in it using these pictures and write down something as well. He wrote “To be a crane or egret….that is the question?!”

With that we moved onto some concrete lessons! 🙂

Life of Fred math-a short lesson on single and double digit multiplication.

Geography- we watched a short video on the 50 states and their capitols.

Science- Famous Inventors,  is what the topic will be for the next couple of months. Today we read about the Wright Brothers. I read aloud the book “My Brothers’ Flying Machine” by Jane Yolen.  We compared how long the first flight was to how long it takes him to microwave his chicken nuggets! He also liked that the first flight was in North Carolina, because that’s where Grammy and Grampy live!

Literature: We continued reading a bit more of  “Wind in the Willows” Some of the wording is a bit confusing for him, so I read a paragraph or two, then pause and do a quick recap to help him follow along.

Grammar: The lesson was a review on types of sentences. He was thrilled to see it was based on The Magic School Bus! He was to fill in different types of sentences about a field trip- statement, question, command or exclamation. He made it a trip to Atlantis and used the character names in the sentences and used the catch phrase “seat belts, everyone!” He loved it, read it over and over to himself and the best part was he was writing without noticing it! 🙂  He hates to write unless it’s something like this that has a little spark to it.

He then moved on to organizing and cleaning out his toy box while Luke and I attempted to play the game Doggie Bingo- match the patterns to the correct dog house. Then he was off to watch Little Einsteins.

Visiting a Real Castle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we headed to Gillette’s Castle! This is the former home of  William Gillette. He is most famous for his portrayal of “Sherlock Holmes” noted  in his acting abilities and style, playwright and director.

The kids all have heard of Sherlock Homes, knowing he was a detective and did their impersonation of him under the sign as we first entered. They are all thinking real hard!

We did learn upon our tour of the castle just how inventive he was. He designed the castle by himself, and a working railroad on the property as well, not to mention a fire hose set up within, with the use of collected rain. As we toured the home we found he had his fair share of trickery as well. It was pointed out that there was a secret door for his use as well as mirrors placed just so that he could keep an eye on his guests without their knowledge! All the woodwork, and details were absolutely amazing! I think it was stated there are 47 doors within the castle and no two are exactly alike! It was details like this that really make it fascinating! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
A look from the outside, all the rocks, flowers and a view of the river.

Then we walked a couple of the trails on the property after a picnic lunch. We ended up going down the the CT River at the edge of the property and the boys had a great time as it looked very “Swiss Family Robinson” down there! We were also able to see some barges going by and the ferry as well as the boys invented games and ran up and down the shore.

We had a great time!

 

Two cousins playing “nap” after one hike

“I Spy” So Much Fun!

Today we headed over to a place called Bakerwoods Farm.  It has just about   everything that we look for in a worth while educational field trip.  Imagination, nature, science, history, animals, nature trails, a picnic area and the  kids favorite part: the “Gnome I Spy Nature Trail”l!

We first set out to see all the animals as many of them came to greet us upon our arrival!

I think “peggy the goose” was one of the first animals we met, who we learned has quite a little history to her life so far.

Peggy the Goose

We made our way through all the animals.

Grazing Horses

Babies!

The Big Guy

The we headed out to the “I Spy Gnome Trail”.  The first thing is to get your paper with the items to “spy” while on the trail. We spotted everything on the list except for three things while on our walk…maybe next time we’ll get them all?!

Knock, Knock!

Then we took a lunch break and finished up with another nature walk through the Ancient Path Trail. We used our imaginations and made up some short stories and ideas about the facial expressions we saw in the trees!

As we left, we talked about what stood out to us today.  For Liam who’s 8: The Gnome Trail- cause it was really cool to walk around and find all the hidden objects!

For Luke, who’s 2, he said( in so many words): I like the bird with the costume, he played pee-a-boo! He kept saying “costume” because of the way the birds plumage stood up around it’s neck. 🙂

For me, I appreciated the entire experience and feel very grateful for the hard-working people who run places like this for others to enjoy- very welcoming and fortunate to have people like that in this world!

There is no fee, they accept donations.

We “spied” many other nature items throughout the day as well.  If you can take a trip, I urge you to take advantage of this peaceful, relaxing, educational and fun atmosphere it’s very unique and you’ll spy many other things I have not mentioned as well!!

Covered Bridge

Some Hives

Liam spotted some pretty fungus

Pretty roadside