Thursday, April 29, 2010

Outdoor Hour, Challenge #1

I have long intended to start the Outdoor Hour Challenge series based on the Handbook of Nature Study. We just never seemed to get to them. Winter is not exactly the time I wanted to start something like this. While we could do it during the winter, it would have been much less rewarding than now. If we get into a good habit, then we might continue through the winter. We'll see.

The first challenge was fairly simple: spend time out side, talk about what you saw, investigate further.

outdoor hourWe spent our time in the back yard. The kids brought all sorts of things in with them: tree leaves and seeds, flowers, pine cones, grass, a little of everything. Then we sat down at the table and looked over what they found. There were some new things to identify, and some things we already knew. Kiddo wanted to put his things on sheets of paper so he could write down what they were. What a great idea! Kutey followed suit, but she was less interested in the writing part. The tape was the fun for her! She moved on to coloring once everything was taped. Once Kiddo had everything taped down, we started learning more about many of the items on the pages. We identified the maple trees in our yard as silver maples based on their leaf shape and seed shape. We learned more about dandelions. We learned that the small purple flowers that have been growing everywhere in our yard are common blue violets. We learned that our evergreens are some sort of spruce tree, though we are still uncertain as to which kind.

The most interesting thing we learned is that we have lots of wild edibles in our backyard: Dandelions can be eaten, the maple tree can be tapped for syrup and sugar, the common blue violet leaves and flowers can be eaten, and the creeping charlie is used in various edible forms, such as tea. We're planning a feast from the wilds of our backyard! It makes me even happier that we have not sprayed our yard in 9 years. We can consume these items with out worry, as long as we pick from our yard!

So, what wild edibles do you have in your yard?

Planting time

gardeningWe started planting our gardens today. It is still early to plant around here, but we have had some unusually warm weather, which has us all itching to get the gardens planted.

We only planted a few seeds, and most of those had to be started indoors anyway. We planted a variety of bell peppers. One seed packet is a mixture of 5 colors of pepper. I am way too excited about them. I would love to see purple peppers in my garden. Given that Kutey can eat half a bell pepper in a sitting, having them growing in our garden would be a treat. The other packet was a green/red bell pepper. If they all grow and produce, we should have plenty to freeze for the winter!

We also planted some morning glories and violas. Kutey picked them out when I was looking at the vegetables with Kiddo and Hubby. She really likes her flowers. Both are seeds, but they seemed to be hardier seeds, from what I read on the back of the packet. Let's hope they survive!

Kiddo and Kutey wanted to help with everything. They weeded, dug, raked, planted, watered, and generally got in there and got dirty. I can't wait to get the rest of the garden going, too! We have carrots (three colors!), zucchini, and summer squash to plant, and I'll get some tomato plants from the nursery (I don't do those from seed...I don't know why.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

You are the sun

scienceDo all kids do this, or just mine? It's the solar system. I took the picture from the sun. I love how there are moons, how the sizes are varied appropriately (without being exact, obviously), there is a gap between the "rocky midgets" and the "gas giants." Pluto (the dwarf planet) is there, if you look very carefully, but it is sort of heading down the hill. No, the number of moons isn't necessarily correct for each plant. No, the distance between the planets isn't right. But Kiddo and Kutey put this together all on their own. To me, that is worth more than whether or not it is exact.

Kiddo loves to read and study about space. Last year he wrote his own book about Mars. I found some readers about the planets that he has been reading, which is probably why there is renewed interest in this particular subject.

Oh, and I was informed, numerous times, that the planets are rarely lined up like this. It is just easier to build a model this way!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday--Themeless 8

This week's Muffin Tin Monday theme was Leftovers Rock. Hmm. See, the way we cook there really is never much for leftovers. Since Monday falls (oddly enough) right after the weekend, leftovers were all but consumed. What wasn't eaten over the weekend was enough for, well, me. That was all. No leftovers for Muffin Tin Monday.

Instead, I pulled out all the old standbys. Cheese, pepperoni, apples, yogurt. I added the chips, which are technically leftover from taco salad! A stretch, yes. Anyway, here is what the kids ate:
Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday

And Kutey's:
Muffin Tin Monday

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


To go along with our Rainbow Muffin Tins this week, we are doing some fun rainbow explorations. Today, in addition to reading Don Freeman's A Rainbow of My Own, we made a rainbow of our own.
I got the information for the project fromKidzone.
You put some milk in a bowl, a drop of red food coloring at one point, a drop of yellow food coloring at another point (1/3 of the bowl away), a drop of blue food coloring another third away. Then put a drop of dish soap in the middle of the bowl. Apparently the soap and milk don't mix. As the soap spreads across the top, the colors mix.
It didn't work quite that well. I had to put in more than one drop of soap. And I twisted the bowl to get the colors moving. Once they began mixing, though, it was more interesting to watch!
We filled out the observation sheet from kidszone, too. I had them color the color wheel sheet from there, too. I printed off the color mixing page from First-School, too, but the kids didn't get to that one. The other two were enough.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday--Rainbow

Today's theme for Muffin Tin Monday was RAINBOW! I love making rainbow tins. They are always so bright and cheery! Particularly on a day that started rather grey.

Here is our "masterpiece" for today:
Muffin Tin Monday
Red: Pepperoni and Red Apples
Orange: Carrots and Clementines
Yellow: Cheese and Yellow bell pepper
Green: Grapes
Blue: blue yogurt
Purple: "blue" corn chips (definitely more purple than blue!)

Here is Kutey's:
Muffin Tin Monday

I used the mini muffin pan for hers today because we had more than 6 foods and I wanted to be able to arrange them in a sort of rainbowy fashion. She ended up getting extra servings of many of the things in the tin, it really holds very little!

And Kiddo's:
Muffin Tin Monday

I had to laugh a little, though, because last year, when I started doing Muffin Tin Monday, rainbow was one of the first tins I did. In that posting, I said if we kept doing this I would have to get new tins. I still haven't! This week's tin, though, made me think I might need to!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our Classroom Today--April 6

We hit the Minnesota Zoo again today. Outdoor places are still a bit unpredictable weather-wise, so the best plan is an indoor venue! The zoo is a perennial favorite, which is good. There is also enough variety that we can see different things each time. They had some zoo babies out this time, and the kids enjoyed looking at the baby chicks.

It was also warm enough to walk the "Minnesota Trail." They have vastly improved this area of the zoo in the last couple of years, but it is not an enclosed trail. It has more to shield you from the elements, but when it is really cold, it is very cold on the trail. I don't like cold, so we rarely go out there in the winter. The wolves were frolicking and we were able to see MANY bird in the feeder area, including wild turkeys and woodpeckers.

After lunch, we were treated to the viewing of a tarantula. There are awesome volunteers at our zoo. One of the things they get to do is bring out some of the educational items and talk to visitors about them. We often get to touch pelts and see skeletal parts. This was the first time I had seen the tarantula, though. The kids were quite intrigued.

We also rode the monorail this time. The monorail is a train that runs on a track over all the outside exhibits. Sometimes you can't see much, but sometimes you can see more. We were able to see a number of animals this time, including a baby camel! So cute!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday--Themeless 7

Another Monday, another muffin tin. This week there was no theme, which was perfect. I had to go with what we had in the house! So here it is:
Muffin Tin Monday

Here is Kutey's:
Muffin Tin Monday
We had hard-boiled eggs, carrots, strawberries, yogurt, cheese, and pepperoni. Lots of pale white foods with bright reds and oranges. The kids are loving the hard-boiled eggs, too bad I forget how much they like them!

And Kiddo's:
Muffin Tin Monday