Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mushroom Spore Prints

According to the chart, getting firm specimens is really important when trying to get a good spore print. Some of these mushrooms were obviously older, being past their time to make spores and they decomposed into water. But a few of them made beautiful spore prints! I am excited to add this to our 'something to do' list.

Now that we have all of our information compiled, we are going to try to identify them. I have made a chart for such a purpose, and Alex is filling it out right now.

This is my favorite (#5):

I honestly didn't realise that mushroom undersides could look like this. I was so used to the gills. Even teacher learned something today!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wild Mushrooms

We spent Black Friday at home, hanging out. The boys got a hair cut, and we did some fun crafts. We watched a movie together and had hot cocoa, and then we went to a park and picked up litter. I was AMAZED at how much litter there was in this tiny little inner city park... we got 3 handle bags worth of litter and a gallon bottle of something that looked like Kool Aid (I wouldn't let the kids open it) in less than a half hour.

While we were collecting litter, I brought along a basket to gather wild mushrooms. I have had this 'life cycle of a mushroom' deck of cards for a long time and thought that now was the time to pull it out.

We found so many varieties and we were only there for a little while. I am excited to go back and find more kinds next time. We laid them all out on white paper, and then looked under them with a magnifying glass.

Then I had the kids cut the stems off and place them gills (or sponge) down to get spore prints tomorrow (which I will also put into a collage like I did the pictures to help us identify them later).

We are trying to figure out what they are, but I am SO new to this that I am not even sure how to teach the kids to identify them. We are not eating any wild mushrooms at all, although we love Chanterelles. But I am pretty sure that none of these are those.

For now we are using this chart:

And these books to help figure out the characteristics of them. Once we know what to look for, we will start to try and ideitify them. No worries though... my children and I will not be eating wild mushrooms any time soon.

This may have to be Logan's new t-shirt

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Famous homeschooling comments from today

We spent a lot of time in the car today. We got lost... and so we of course, took the moments that we had to 'teach'. Every homeschooler uses these moments right?

"Hey look kids... When Santa isn't at the north pole, he is holding a sign in Graham."

Don says "What has a tongue like this?" Don sticks his tongue out like a snake. And without a hitch, Logan says "A bison!!!"

Thank God for homeschooling. Lol...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Window stars and origami

Alex has been going crazy with the origami. He sold over $10 worth of his creations last weekend at the craft fair we went to. He is so good at it, and his work is beautiful and crisp.

I got him this book on Magical Window Stars for another paper folding activity, and he has loved making them so far! His first one was put in the nature case at the library to show the sun behind 'summer', and this is his second one:

He and I share the paper obsession. When he was little he used to like to make 'confetti'... which meant that he would take whole pieces of paper and cut them up into tiny bits, and then put them in a box or envelope. His paper crafts have grown with him and I am so proud of his latest works. They are beautiful and well done. He is becoming a master of folding paper and I am excited about having lots of Christmas decorations around the house made by him!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Feeding Elk... out of your car???

Yes. That is what we spent the day doing. We fed elk, out of the car. It was amazing. I can't even describe it in words... all I can do is show you pictures:

Oh, and tell you where we were. ;)

If you want the full sized slideshow (see all the bison slobber up close!) then click here. I'll fill in more details later.

More rainbow fun!

Remember this? We got it back from my friend a few months ago. But I knew Logan wasn't quite ready for it, so it has been sitting on a shelf until yesterday. I thought that it might go right along with the rainbow puddles game... and it did!

He quickly and easily figured out where each one went... even the gradual color change ones. The clothes pins are perfect for working on finger dexterity too!

I am still amazed at what a difference a few months can do for a child's skills. 7 months ago he just wanted to rip the stars off of these clothes pins. Now he can understand the color differences between light purple, dark purple, and violet and match them all up correctly. Their little brains are just amazing!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Milking Dairy Goats

Our food production studies have come a long way, although most are hard to discribe as I haven't been taking as many pictures as usual.

Last week it took us to a fun little farm that produces goats milk. The owner was a wonderful tour guide and she and her two homeschooled kids taught us how to milk a goat!

First comes grooming and reassurance. Then cleaning the utters to make sure no hair or dirt gets into the milk.

Then the milking:

And of course, goat conversation. ;)

The kids with their "I Milked A Dairy Goat!" ribbons.

For the love of Rainbow

It has been raining... a lot. Every night it storms and then each day it rains... all day long. We got a three hour respite yesterday and we were very grateful, but it was just enough to wet our appetites for more dry and sunny weather... and then it started raining again. So I took a trip to the craft store for things to do... and found these:

What can a mama do with a bag of 300 of these? Hmmm... lets find out. Today it was a story and a game for Logan.

The story is about 6 rainbow goblins who like to jump in mud puddles. They thought it was great fun. But each time they got out of a puddle they noticed that all of their jumping had caused the puddles to change to colorful paint! And when they looked up, the raindrops on their arms and legs had changed to paint too! They had to quickly put all of the drops of water back into the puddles where they belonged so the puddles would turn back to clear good water to drink because all of their jumping had made them very thirsty.

Logan loved matching up the raindrops to the puddles and hearing the story. I think I will stick with a rainbow theme for a while in our homeschool lessons. I am even trying to find/think up things for the older kids.

I was thinking of reading him the story of The Rainbow Goblins but decided that my modified version was better for the younger crowd. (In the book the sinister Rainbow Goblins plan to steal a rainbow out of Rainbow Valley and the flowers very effectively fight back. Good for older kids... but may have scary moments for the youngers.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our nature table display

We have a chance to get our nature table collection in the library glass display case this month. Here are a few pictures:





I added a few books that we enjoy throughout the seasons.

Cyan's turning 100!!

Today my daughter is turning 100. 100 months old that is!

We are celebrating by doing tons of crafts and drinking hot cider with cinnamon bread.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Trip to the Almond Roca factory

Sometimes field trips turn out amazing... you get great experiences and learning opportunities, and the world feels like it opens up. And then you get the duds.

The Almond Roca factory was certainly a dud. Since 9/11 they don't actually allow tours anymore, they have NO pictures of the inside of the building or the process of making the candy (and I was told there was no way to find them except a tv show from the 70's), and they don't let anyone even look in the door. For a wonderful, local candy company to not even have a book of how the candy was made... well I was really disappointed.

The only thing we got was a tour through the Outlet building (which is only 11X11 ft wide, and filled with shelves of candy 'seconds') and a surly woman that liked to answer my questions, while interrupting me asking them. It was a very frustrating field trip.

But the prices on candy were good. We got some anyway.

Eat the candy. Don't ask questions.

The kids seemed ok with it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crafts for Dark Days

Many people ask me what we do with all of the children's art. Aside from their portfolios, and the recycle bin, we like to turn art into other art!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kids in the kitchen

My kids love to cook. I don't know if this is because cooking is a daily (or more) ritual in this house, or if they have inherited the gene from me but all three of my kids will help whenever I ask. I have been reluctant to include Logan in this for he has more of a temper than my other kiddos and being as young as he is, I worry that he will hurt himself. Today, though, I found the perfect way for him to help.

Washing potatoes! I got these babies from the farmers market and so they still had quite a bit of dirt on them. For about an hour this evening my toddler, quietly and thoroughly washed 6 baker potatoes. He loved the job. He kept saying that he wasn't done and continued to scrub them with the veggie brush...

He was SO happy!

How do you include your kids in the kitchen chores?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Button Sorting

The first time we tried this activity was about 7 months ago. He liked doing it, but wasn't quite ready to do it on his own yet. This time was a whole new ball of wax. He loved it, and he was good at it. He knew all the different colors and where they went. He had a blast for about an hour sorting the different shades of colors from the button basket into this little paint palette.

When he was 'done' this is what it looked like. He kept moving the reds and dark oranges out of the smaller spots and putting them in the middle because there was a button that was too big for the small spot.

I barely coaxed him in this activity at all. He just wanted to do it this way. What a difference 6 months can make! I have even seen it in my older kids. Cyan and I had a lot of trouble reading, and so I completely laid off for about 6 months... and she started to read, all on her own. Alex was the same way. I think these mental breaks are so important for children. As adults, we don't learn equal parts of everything, all the time. Our interest and our ability comes and goes in spurts. I have found that my children work the same way... they learn in stages. In short, concentrated spurts where their interest and their abilities happen to match up some how. Then all I really have to do is sit back and watch the magic.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Alex - ie: Snake Eyes. Costume was well earned this year. He worked hard for the money to get the costume he wanted, and I was excited it wasn't a black Ninja for once... until we opened the package. lol... oh well. It isn't ONLY a black Ninja. ;)

Cyan was an Indian Princess complete with Sari. She looked beautiful! We did Henna for both of our hands and feet the night before. I wish we had tested it out sooner, as it was messy and we didn't have enough time to really let it sit on there long enough, but it was beautiful anyhow.

And, last but not least, Logan the Dragon. He was so cute! Still recovering from his foot injury, he has been slow moving lately... well slower than normal. He started limping about halfway through trick or treating and we carried him. But he seemed ok with it. Quote from this morning "I 'ike getting candy from houses, Mama."

Some action shots: