Saturday, May 26, 2007

I Ate An Ant

Yes, today I ate an ant. (My first) A chocolate covered one. And, the chocolate was so big (and yummy!) that I never tasted (or felt!) the ant (thought I could see a tiny piece of him).

We went to a Bugstravaganza event at the grand re-opening of our Entomology Hall. I can't believe the wonderful transformation they've done to this area! It was a little crowded or we would have spent more time.

After the "Bug Hall", we went to the Butterfly Pavilion. Wow! I think they must have released hundreds of extra butterflies for this event! I've never seen so many. And, they were landing on everyone. This little black and white butterfly landed on Alexandra's shoe 3 times! She said it tickled, but she held still for a photo.

We also saw pineapples growing. I'd never even seen a photo of how they grow and I got so excited to see this! I think we'll have to try to grow our own, though I've heard it takes several years.

A little boy let this butterfly crawl from his finger to Alexandra's. She was so excited to see its proboscis which was all curled up.

Then, she handed it to me and I took some more photos, including this close up. I love the antenae in this photo! (You probably have to click on it to get where you can see it closely.)

Here's the chef stir-frying up some bugs - some kind of bamboo "something" larva. (No thanks!) They even have a new machine in the permanent exhibit where you can buy boxes of crickets (how about some with cheese or sour cream and onions?) for just a couple of dollars. `

Here are some of the "declicious"samples. (I just couldn't do it, but lots of folks were! Did you know that people in most of the world eat bugs?)

Alexandra and I also pet quite a few bugs including a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Alexandra was the first to be brave, so I had to follow), a giant walkingsticks, a millipede, and several others. Alexandra also did some crafts and we watched a cockroach race. (Alexandra put #2 in the starting box, but he came in 4th, I think.)

We also toured other parts of the museum and enjoyed a "talk" a lady gave us about different kinds of rocks. She was impressed that Alexandra knew what pumice and obsidian were (we were studying volcanoes this week) and she kept saying how smart our little kids (homeschoolers) were. It made me feel good! :-) And, we just had a great day!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rachel Carson's Birthday on Sunday

Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson's birth. Our local museum is offering birthday cake to help celebrate, so it got me to thinking... any ideas on something we could do to celebrate her birthday on Sunday? Thanks for any ideas!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Two-lined Spittlebug

Alexandra found this bug on our window a few days ago. We got the bug book to identify it, and Alexandra surprisingly opened the book to the exact page as our bug! The spittlebug makes a mass of "spit" to "nest" in as a nymph which keeps it hidden from predators and parasites and keeps it from drying out, too. It also comes in a variety with green stripes.

Still Here!!!

We are still here, though I haven't posted much lately. I've got SO much to post about - the rest of our Magic Tree House "Pompeii" study; nature finds in our backyard; and resources we've been using to read about things like bees and our flag. This is "our" last day of 1st grade and we are so excited! We'll be doing a little celebration tomorrow. And, hopefully tonight or tomorrow, I'll get some things posted, so don't give up on me! :-) (Above, photo of Emma)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bee Resources

We were going to study bees and do some activities I found at this site, but didn't get around to it. (I'd really like to buy their video, too.) However, we did enjoy a few good books and videos and Alexandra came up with this idea herself: she acted out the life cycle of a bee, starting with a tiny egg. It truly showed how much she learned!

Hopefully, we'll do more of the fun activities later, but for now, here are the books and videos we enjoyed:

  • Honeybees by Heiligman - great book
  • Are You a Bee? by Allen & Humphries - great book & great series
  • Magic School Bus video, Inside a Beehive
  • Bug City: Bees movie

Saturday, May 19, 2007


This week, we tried out a free sample of an art program named GeeART. We really enjoyed the animated lesson and were very happy with the subject since it was something we studied with our friends! The lesson was about how the invention of paint in a tube changed art - at the time of the Impressionists! Because the paint was easier to carry, they were able to go outside and paint.

The lesson also talked about how people have painted since the cave days and what changes have taken place. Again, we LOVED the animation. And, it has games to play, too. Then, it gives you a "test" where you can earn puzzle pieces and artist cards.

I do think it's a little expensive and we probably won't buy it (at least at this time), but I do highly recommend trying it out. What a treat!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MTH: Vacation Under the Volcano: Part 1

This week we started a new, short study based on Magic Tree House's Vacation Under the Volcano. We found most of our ideas at this site. After 3 days, we've completed 5 out of 10 chapters. We first read each chapter, then complete the on-line questions (5 or 7 questions), and then do an activity.

Ch. 1 - We made a tunic. I LOVED this activity as it was my own idea. (And, it was fun and turned out well!) We actually weren't going to do anything for chapter 1, but I got the idea while we read it and from looking at the book cover. I took one of my husband's old t-shirt and cut the sleeves off. I used the sleeves as ties and used my sewing machine to close the arm openings some and make the back a little tighter. (Oops! on wearing the watch.)
Ch. 2 - We ate Italian food - 2 days in a row. The first time, we cooked fettucini alfredo (from a box) and Alexandra tried dates. The second night we went out and she tried some of my lasagna and liked it. (She ordered cheese sticks.) We're also going to make some lasagna at home in the next few days.
Ch. 3 - We washed our hands like the ancient Romans. Alexandra had made some soap (she says the ingredients include glycerin and lotion) and you smear it on and then use a scraper to scrape it off. I'll stick to soap and water.
Ch. 4 - We made a mosaic out of colored paper on a dark background. (I used a hole punch and made round "tiles") We actually didn't complete this, but are planning on going to a craft store and get some supplies to make a "real" mosaic.
Ch. 5 - I loved the activities we did for this chapter, too!

First, we made a book and sewed the seam. The website we're using said that the book as we know it today was invented in the early Roman empire. We just took 4 sheets of paper and folded them in half and sewed along the edge. Alexandra is using hers to write a book on the Roman Empire. I'm writing my book about the activities we've done for this study - including hand-drawn illustrations. :-) We will definitely be making more books like this. It's quick, easy, and fun!

Secondly, we made a wax tablet to write on. The website said many Roman children used wax tablets for their school work. We melted some candles in the oven on a cookie sheet and used a "stylus" to write on them. This was so much fun!!! We greased the cookie sheet, but it was still a little hard to clean. (Alexandra's writing "Pompeii")

Monday, May 14, 2007

Field Day

On Friday, Alexandra attended a Field Day for homeschoolers with over 120 kids in attendance. Wow! (Above photo: using rope to climb rope on obstacle course)

Alexandra was in a group of 9, 6-year-old girls. They competed in about 10 events and Alexandra won 4 ribbons: 1st place in javelin throw, 2nd place in water ballon toss and egg carry, and 3rd place in jump roping. (Above photo: javelin throw style - the blue ribbon winner)

Great Book: Vote!

I picked up a "new" book this weekend at Half Price Books. It's called Vote! by Christelow. It is a great book about voting (how it works, who can vote, etc) as told through the eyes of 2 dogs. My sister-in-law is currently running for office and I thought this was gave Alexandra a great view of what she's doing.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Reading Meme

Robin tagged me for this reading meme. I LOVE to read, but so much of my reading is just school related - both Alexandra's read-alouds and blogs for friendship and inspiration! Anyway, I'm glad Robin tagged me as I decided I had to start the new book my daughter gave me a few weeks ago for our wedding anniversary.
I don't really read a lot of books at once, so I'm currently reading one fiction and one non-fiction book (and I'm reading the latest Old Schoolhouse, which I read for about 2 hours today - I love it!):
  • The Five Love Languages of Children by Chapmn & Campbell - I'm really enjoying this book and putting it to good use!

  • Beyond Thursday Morning by Karen Kingsbury - this is only the 2nd book I've read by this author, the first being Tuesday Morning. It is Christian fiction, my favorite genre, and these 2 books are about September 11th. I love how one of the main characters (who died) kept a detailed journal and wrote notes in his Bible that his wife was able to read after his death. What a legacy!
I'll tag Sherri over at Our Place and Christie over at Boys+ Academy

Friday, May 11, 2007

Neat Idea

One of my friends shared this neat idea with us. The photo above is of our wildflower guide, but we've also made a bird guide.

For the wildflowers, we just printed photos from the internet and glued them to index cards. Then, we wrote the name of the wildflower on the front and back of each card and added information on the back such as petal color and plant height. (For the bird's guide, we wrote about their nests, songs, and what kinds of foods they like to eat.) Then, we punched holes through each card and put them on a ring! Just the process of making the cards helped us learn alot. (Thanks, J!)

Young Squirrels & Birds

OK, so this isn't the best place to feed the birds... and squirrels... but we've been feeding them on the spa lately so we can see them up close. It's been quite a treat as we've watched our pair of cardinals feeding each other! So sweet! And, we watched 2 baby sparrows this weekend (they were about as big as their mom, and very fluffy!) BEGGING her for food. We enjoyed watching her feed these huge babies.
And, we've been enjoying our squirrel family. (At least, we think they're a family.) Lately, we've been seeing 2 (big) babies. They are smaller than the adults, but still pretty big. They have been chasing each other in the trees and sometimes hurting each other (all in play, I guess) to the point where one of them will squeal! Then, they sometimes act very loving with each other. They're also not very afraid of us and let us get very close.
So, for the first time yesterday, we actually saw all 4 in the backyard together! If I remember correctly, the above photo is of one of our friendly "kids."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Book Club for Girls

I've been thinking off and on for a long time about starting a book club for girls around Alexandra's age. Today, I read Lettres de mon Moulin's post about their book club for girls and she explained a lot of how they do their club. Now, I'm hoping to start one this fall! You might want to read her posts (there is also a previous one) to get some ideas.

If you live near a major city, you might check out this site. They have an incredible, varied calendar of things going on in each of these cities. And, you can click on a link and go to the website or get more information about the event. It's also a great tool to use when planning a trip! It's a great way to stay informed and find something fun to do!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

GREAT American History curriculum - for FREE!!!

Today I ran across a neat, FREE, American History curriculum! The site is called Our Los Banos and a homeschooling mother is basically sharing what she's doing with her son. I LOVE the hands-on activities and that it is simple and yet covers quite a lot. We are going to study American History in the fall, and I think I'll be using a lot of her ideas!

We are getting ready to do a little study of the Magic Tree House book, Buffalo Before Breakfast. (In fact, I think we might do several MTH books over the summer.) While researching things we could do with it, I decided to cover the Plains Indians and buffalo. I am loosely basing my plans on a study I found at this site.
And, now I'm adding what I found at Our Los Banos.

We're planing on starting this study on Monday after finishing up a few loose ends with our bird study (which I'll try to post about soon!) and our Keepers projects.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Birding, again

Alexandra and I took our second "big" birding trip this week with my mom who was visiting us for a few days. Our two big outings during her visit were to go birding and to visit the art museum to see the Impressionists paintings. We had a great visit, and it was sad to see her leave.

Our first bird of the day - a yellow-crowned night heron. Alexandra was the one to spot him. We watched him for several minutes and even saw him eating. We also saw a red-bellied woodpecker at this first stop.

We saw lots of animals and flowers at our second stop. The above photo is of a barn swallow's nest. I'll spare you the photo of the other nest that had about a 4 foot snake in it. (Hmmm... what was he doing there??? I shudder to think, but I guess that's nature!) The snake later came down and we got about 2 foot from him and I took a lot of photos. The people at the information desk said they thought it was a rat snake. I'll try to make a positive identification later.

We also saw about half a dozen alligators at our second stop. This is my third time to see them out in the wild, and it is still amazing!

Other things we saw on our second stop: Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Cattle Egret, Barn Swallow, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown Headed Cowbird (male and female), Snake (rat snake?), Great Egret, Orchard Oriole (adult male), Hummingbird (probably Ruby Throated - we only saw it as a silouette), Tennessee Warbler, Cardinal, Green anole, Turtle, Baltimore Oriole, Kingbird, Common Moorhen, American Coot, and Cormorant.

Our third stop was cut short by thunder and rain. But, the birds were active and I wish we could have stayed longer! The more experienced birders were excited to see a female Western Tanager which are usually found west of the Rockies! Alexandra enjoyed watching the rabbit that sat munching in front of us for about 10 minutes. We also spotted a red-bellied woodpecker, a rose-breasted grosbeak, and another baltimore oriole. We saw a few others that the birders pointed out, but they didn't get recorded.

Our fourth stop was to the Rookery Island. We saw quite a few mama egrets and their babies. They had grown a lot since we saw them two weeks ago. They were so cute! We got to watch the moms feed the babies.

Alexandra in front of the island of nests next to the warning sign about alligators. And, yes, we saw two alligators near the island.

To get to view this island, we passed through some woods with lots of mosquitos. We actually turned around and went back for more mosquito spray. Then, we jogged through the woods to avoid getting bit.

Unfortunately, this is also where I get a pretty nasty spider bite on my stomach. (At least, that's what we think it was.) Within 30 minutes, it was pretty swollen and red and we had to stop for medicine. It got to be about 5 inches by 3 inches large and was swollen, red, and feverish. And, my 4 mosquito bites (at least, that's what I think they were) also get inflammed and swollen. The back of my hand was pretty large. This experience taught me to bring a first aid kit from now on!

Our fifth stop was to see some pelicans on the beach. I love pelicans! But, this stretch of beach was pretty smelly.

We also found this beautiful blue jelly fish that had washed up on the shore. My mom's shoe is in the photo for size-comparison.

Our last stop of the night was the beach. We found an old platic bottle that was covered with barnacles. I tried some close up shots, but they didn't turn out very well.

Alexandra probably enjoyed this last stop the best. She got to play in the ocean! I wish we could have stayed longer. Next time, we'll spend more time on the beach!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cross Stitch

Our last project for the year with our Keepers group has been learning to cross stitch. The girls are working on a pretty butterfly. Alexandra got the body finished today and we'll start on the wings in the next few days. The girls have had so much fun together this year and Alexandra can't wait for next year... but first, the end of the year awards party!

Meet Emma

Emma the teddy hamster joined our family on Friday. This is Alexandra's first pet that is all her own. She really is a lot of fun... especially since I learned how to shut the door to her wheel at night. She woke my up on Saturday at 6:15 - from downstairs! - running on that wheel. When I get up around 6:30, I re-open her amusement park, and boy does she run!
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