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.

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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!

Tree and Flower Art Study

IMG_20140612_080054We recently moved and live across the street from a beautiful 15 Acre Victorian Strolling Park! Ever since I first walked through it, I thought, we’ve got to come here and draw/paint/color all these beautiful trees and flowers! The weather was perfect and so we did it, packed a bag of art supplies, a blanket and paper!!

Before heading out the door, we watched a documentary on the art of flowers, just to get us inspired 😉

We took the pamphlet that listed all 61 types of trees within the park and walked around until we saw a great one to draw! We’ve been to the park many times and my youngest always yells when he sees one of the trees with a marked plaque stating the type of tree it is!

The first tree we thought was really pretty was the Japanese Snowbell. We took a photo and continued on. Here is the photo:

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The first tree to sit down and draw was picked by my oldest a little ways down the path. He chose the European Beech tree. He said it looked cool! The description of the tree in the pamphlet fit too; it said The specimen is a weeping form and a favorite play place for children on hot summer days.

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The next art study was a switch from trees to a water fountain, I warned them drawing water is tricky, but lets give it a try! After all, it’s the process, not the product!!

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Here are some other highlights of the park we found beautiful. The boys noticed flowers growing in rows in the open field and decided to run and jump over each “line” of flowers!

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For our third drawing my oldest wanted to do one “free style” as he calls it! 🙂 My youngest by now, was just wanting to pretend to be a “dog at the park.” So, we found another little spot and set up the blanket again. While Liam “free-styled” and Luke was a “dog” I looked around and loved the colors of the branches on the Japanese Maple, and decided on that one.

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A few other photos of prettiness in the park:

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After the park we headed to a nearby playground to wrap up the day!

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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.

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

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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:

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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!

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!



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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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!

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.

Weekend Visitors

An American Goldfinch came to our backyard feeders this weekend. We have two feeders set just outside our picture window, and this male goldfinch made several visits! My oldest new this bird’s identity already and did not need to use his guide book, so we just marked the date in his book and read a few facts. This fact in particular had both boys giggling: The goldfinch’s twittering sounds like potato-chip, potato-chip!

We also spotted spiders and many webs around the house as we took a walk around the yard.  I’m not a fan of spiders in any way but, this one was pretty neat to see.  This web, and several of the others were just amazing and huge! I do not know what type this is however, and upon a quick look at types of spiders  via internet, I was grossed out! Sorry!

We have a book about nature projects for kids, and in it is a project on how to collect spiders’ webs! First find a large web, spray hairspray on it, shake talcum powder over the web, spray again, then slide your paper behind it and lift up! The web sticks right to the paper and with the powder on it, you can really check out the design pattern!