Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Springing forward!

We experienced some way too early spring weather, which was wonderful at the moment, but as we watched all the spring trees and bushes bloom far too soon, thoughts of climate change really hit home.  Once the temps returned to normal, most of the trees that bloom in April in May started turning brown, and we worry how summer fruit crops will fair this year.   After such a crummy winter, it's so depressing to see so much brown in spring...except for the adorable fuzzy brownness of newborn babies on the farm!

These pics are from a day we spent at a local farm: climbing trees, meeting newborn lambs and goats, and Four getting drenched under the chicken coop as the little snow there was melted on her head.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Maple Sugaring

I have always wanted to go maple sugaring, and Seven's nature class allowed us a wonderful opportunity to experience this away from crowds on the weekends, and at our own pace.  Four and I joined the group for this last session of Winter Nature Class at the wildlife sanctuary.  We learned so much about how to identify sugar maples, the process of extracting the sap, interesting facts, necessary weather conditions, and the best part was hanging out in the Sugar Shack!  The smell was so delish you could taste the air and we just wanted to stay there all day.  Seven turned to me and begged, "Can we have pancakes as soon as we get home?"  I could not resist, so after sampling the first batch of syrup for the season, we feasted on stacks of pancakes and REAL maple syrup--no more high fructose corn syrup imitation for us!

A special treat was seeing a Bluebird--they are so beautiful and look like tropical birds!--as we were walking about searching for sugar maples in the woods.  Wonderful day!

and experiments!

One of my favorite aspects of the Polar Study has been the variety of cool experiments we have conducted and recorded in our Polar Journals.  Antarctica is exclusively inhabited by scientists, so we have spent much time discussing what scientists do, how they do it, and why.  I love that Four and Seven are so curious and willing to participate in our science experiments--it has always been one of my favorite aspects of teaching--"playing scientist".  We have studied why salt water doesn't freeze, how to make frost, density and buoyancy, and ice--we have really studied ice, and it's been so fun!  I think whatever we study next, we will make a point of including an experimentation component!

Arctic Studies continued...

In a previous post, I wrote about our Arctic studies--including both polar regions.  W completed our Arctic mural by painting the Aurora Borealis and creating a numbered guide to all the animals and plants we included.  Our Polar Regions dictionary and the ample supply of reference books on both the Arctic circle and Antarctica provided great sources of info, and we were careful to only include region-appropriate life.  Since more animals live in the Arctic, Seven and Four agreed on that region for the mural as they were both most excited about making as many animals as they could.  You need to use your imagination a bit when viewing the animals, so the guide is very helpful!

Now that we are wrapping up our Polar studies, we are investigating other places in the world we'd like to know more about.  Looks like Beanie's vote is for Greenland!  

February Adventures

February's mild weather allowed us to get out and about quite a bit, which was loads of fun, but we were wishing for snow the whole time!  By Valentine's Day, we were ready to bag winter and say hello to spring!  Here are some highlights:

Chatting with the harbor seals at the aquarium

Four's best friend at the zoo...her jaguar

Seven scootering at the park

Valentine making at home

Happy Year of the Dragon 2012

I am quite fortunate to have had several students over the years who celebrated Chinese New Year, and shared their family's traditions with our class.  It's really an interesting celebration--the dragons, the fireworks, the costumes, music, and dances.  I was really excited to break out the old Chinese New Year box for our home school celebration of Year of the Dragon.

We spent the day cleaning the house, making decorations, and preparing a Chinese New Year feast with symbolic food and everything!  We even surprised Daddy with "fireworks" (flashlights and streamers) when he got home from work.  Good fortune for the year to come!