Friday, May 25, 2012

Great Wolf Vacation!


We spent the last days of our May vacation at Great Wolf Lodge!  Everyone loved it but Luke.  I happened to forget that he was afraid of the shower before I took him to a HUGE loud indoor waterpark!  lol!  Poor baby spent the entire time just like this:


Usually on me, but Alex and Don took turns when I was off having moments to myself. 

Cyan, on the other hand, was off and running with her girlfriends the second we got there and we hardly saw her for the whole time we were there.  This is a pic from the brief moments I saw her:


It was wonderful to go with friends!  It was ‘homeschool discount week’ so we had tons of people we knew from the area.  I had absolutely no issue with taking care of the baby and staying in one spot while Cyan was running the entire park grounds.  Mainly because I knew that #1 she was with at least 3 friends at all times, and #2 there were homeschool mamas I knew EVERYWHERE.  It was the best way to go!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Titlow Beach Tour - Staycation day #5


Yesterday we took a tour of Titlow Beach! 


The tour started with everyone splitting into groups and talking about the types of things they were looking for on the beach at low tide.


We all headed down to the beach and started looking for specimens of beach wildlife.  They started at the top of the beach and headed down towards the water. 


It was amazing the difference between the upper shore critters and the tide area critters! About the same amount, but completely different needs for life and comfort.


This is a Chiton.  Two different kinds actually.  One is a Banded Chiton and the other is a Spiny Chiton.


Isn’t the banded one beautiful!?!  It is even more brightly colored than it looks.  Green around the edges and almost purple/brown in the middle with bands that look iridescent in the sunlight.  Beautiful! 

We saw all kinds of critters from giant Sea Stars, to tiny Sun Stars with only three legs (the rest, which they can have up to 20 or so, must have gotten eaten off by curious and hungry birds). 


By the end we had identified 7 different kinds of crab and one of them was the tiny hermit crab like this:


We had to leave early because Cyan was sick.  Sad smile But it was a beautiful time at the beach!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mantis, Mantis, Baby Mantis


We can spend hours watching the baby mantis go around their enclosure.  We have also put a few in a jar and they are hanging out in a clear container so we can see them better.  And this morning I let a couple out on a stick while I was feeding the rest.  I am sure they would have moved faster if they had known I it was feeding time, but as it was, they were sluggish enough for me to get some pretty good shots of these tiny TINY creatures. 


At almost a half inch long they are really cute!  But really cute like baby tigers are cute.  You know, something that would gladly eat you if they had the chance.


This is pretty much the coolest bug study yet.  I have done butterflies, lady bugs, frogs… but I think the mantis take the cake.  They are the coolest creatures to watch!  It’s pretty neat to watch a bug that will turn it’s head and watch you back.  lol!

The things we learn (the next day):

So I went all Hunger Games on my mantis today. I dumped in a bunch of tiny sugar ants thinking 'breakfast' but what I really got was 'war'. It was not so awesome. Two dead, one with only 5 legs. I rescued them before the ants took out any more mantids.

Man! And I even said "May the odds be ever in your favor" before dumping the ants in. Little did I know... the odds WERE in the ants favor. They are like the careers of the bug world. Must go get baby fruit fly larvae now. No aphids to speak of anywhere. Who would have thunk I would be WISHING for aphids on my roses!?!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Theo Chocolate Factory Tour

This year, our vacation is a low budget one… so instead of going somewhere for our two weeks off we decided to have a ’staycation’ in which we go on field trips every two days!  The Theo Chocolate Factory Tour was Staycation Day #1!


The first thing we had to do on the Theo Chocolate Tour was put on a hair net.


Everyone had to wear one.


Dad even had to wear one on his face!  Logan decided he needed a beard net too:


Did I mention everyone?


They sat us in a room and the chocolate eating began.  They started by describing how chocolate is processed and grown.  And in fact, I found it interesting that the tree that first grew their chocolate is called the “Theo Cocoa Tree” which is how they got their name!  I always thought it was a guy named Theo.  lol!  But in fact, it’s named after a variety of cocoa tree.


We started tasting with the very darkest chocolate (91%) and moved to the sweeter stuff.  Kind of like a wine tasting, we could taste the differences between chocolate grown in different places and climates.  It was VERY interesting! 

After that, we went into the actual factory.  We were blessed to have two workers on our tour… a tour guide and a former coco roaster!  Something else I didn’t know is that Theo is one of the only factories in the USA that actually roasts it’s own chocolate.  Most places that claim to ‘make’ chocolate actually only ‘melt’ chocolate. 

This flow chart shows how it’s done and which machines do what:


Cyan really loved watching the ‘coco liquiour’ come out of the machine and mix with the milk powder and sugar.


Then we got to go into the ‘confection room’.  With no Oompa Loompas in sight, we watched real people make chocolate bars and confections right before our eyes as our tour guide told us what was what and who was doing which chore:



This was one of the 5 bar guys.  Making the actual chocolate bars is a HUGE job.  This room is where all of the add in’s for the bar chocolates are added:


He’s making cherry almond bars in this picture.  Smile YUM!

Our tasting time was well from over though.  When in the confections room we got to taste quite a few different confections and then went into the gift shop where all of the bar seconds were broken up and we could taste them ALL.  By the time I left I was chocolated out… for probably the first time ever!  lol!


It was a wonderful tour and a great start to our staycation!


Our Mantis Egg Case HATCHED!!!

We now have about 200 tiny mantid (the other name for mantis) in our butterfly house, waiting to be fed.  These guys are about 1/2 inch long and are already doing awesome mantis things like waiting at a respectful distance before they eat eachother.  Winking smile


Can you see the ones that are emerging from the egg case?  They are nymphs.  Mantids have an incomplete metamorphosis life cycle.  It starts with nymph, but they are only in that phase for a few hours while their exoskeleton dries and then they look like tiny versions of their mama.  (As you can see with the one sitting on top of the egg case, already in ‘prayer’ position. Smile )  Slowly over the next few weeks they will ‘molt’ out of their skins and slowly get larger and larger.

You need to feed mantis in the first 48 hours.  I am going to get them some fruit fly larvae as they get bigger, but for our first feeding I am choosing to use raw hamburger.  I saw this trick on Instructables under “feeding baby praying mantises” and so far it works!  


We had only one of our two egg cases hatch and I am already worried that the second egg case is going to end up being a ‘food case’ if they don’t come out soon.  They will be much smaller than our already growing little guys and most likely, the older mantids will just hang out while they hatch and eat them.  lol!  There are already three that like to sit on the egg case like it’s a hunting perch. 

Our Praying Mantis lapbooks are nearly finished.  They will, of course, be pictures of our mantis in the lapbook once we get it done.  Hopefully better ones than these.  They had to be taken through the screen because the babies all wanted to rush out of the butterfly house as I opened it to take pictures!  Sneaky little things that I very much do not want loose in my house.  lol!

Here’s a couple more websites that will help if you ever decide to raise your own mantids! 

  • This has a whole list of worksheets that are related to raising, breeding, and keeping Praying Mantis.

  • A simple life cycle diagram that will help with filling out lapbook and worksheets on life cycle. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Resources for the Praying Mantis unit study

Mantis Clip art for study

I wanted to wait until I had pictures of our Mantis before I posted the resources to the study… but alas. I think our egg cases were duds. 6 weeks now, and we have nothing. Sad smile I will keep them for a few more weeks before sending them out in the wild. They may not be warm enough (68* in our house??) or something may be wrong. Or there may not be any babies in our egg cases. But whatever it is, after 6 weeks we are moving on to stick bugs!


Our whole study geared around the following documentary and the Mantis Lapbook from  This documentary  was a WONDERFUL start to our study and in fact, we have watched it at least three times as we fill out different pages of our lapbook.  (It seems like a cross between Planet Earth and Bill Nye… which was perfect for us!)

Other resources we used:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Logan’s workboxes - 5/1 - Fingerprints and Food Chains

Box #1 - Bambi by Felix Salten - these chapters are long and involved.  It required quite a bit of talking after the chapter is done as deer dying and the rut is starting.


Box #2 - Nature Study - today we discovered the tree that went along with this cone that was in the street on our walk.  We also played a nature Food Chain game again.


The game is above Logan’s head so we just make up cycles of life with the cards and try to see if they work.  This was the working one that we came up with today:


Box #3 - 1 - 10 dot to dot.  He was searching as he drew so his lines went all over the place before they ‘found’ the right number.  I added in the ruler so he can make his lines a bit more straight by finding the number he needs to go to BEFORE he puts the pen down.


Box #4 - Bob Book - Completed #5 today.  Smile


Box #5 - a worksheet on opposites.  Once he knew the concept, he did this easily… but it took some explaining and help with the longer words (although he sounded out “young” which was kinda awesome.)


Box #6 Ed Emberley and a notepad to make fun fingerprint critters on.


Box #7 - A small motor skills activity of lacing a tree sewing card with a needle.  Both the needle and a button were tied on so that he wouldn’t lose the end of the thread.  This made it much less frustrating! 


Box #8 - Another pattern block with no colors.  This one was easier because the shapes were more defined than the last one, but it still took him a while with no color guide.


Box #9 - A page out of Kumon’s First Rhymes book.


Box #10 - some fun with Wedgits!