Firefly Watch


 Want to help scientists and learn more about some of summer’s most magical creatures at the same time?  Join Firefly Watch!

To take part, just observe fireflies in one location weekly and report your sightings.  You can visit the web site to learn more about fireflies, take part on the forums and more.

You could also chart your sightings at home and use the chart to make predictions and more….

An Afternoon at the Lake

We met Erica at a nearby lake today and had such a blast!  It was a perfect day, just barely hot enough to make it good for swimming with a big wind to keep bugs away.

Daryl got two old inner tubes for free from the guy who owns the local tire shop (we’ve given him a lot of business lately!) and the kids tried them out.  They were a big hit!

We unloaded tons of sand toys, floaties and various other goodies and the kids happily amused themselves.

After a while, Mic headed down the beach to a little inlet to try to catch some minnows.  Anna joined him and later Victoria headed that way too.  Erica’s Jack followed her and then the little ones followed them and pretty soon it was a bit like the Pied Piper leading all the little children down the beach.

If you can’t beat them, join them, so we followed with the little ones.

It was so magical down there!  I didn’t get a chance to grab my camera but Erica had the foresight to bring hers so I’ll just hope she posts some pictures on her blog.  🙂

The kids waded in this little stream that led from the lake down to the inlet.  They had nets to catch minnows and a plastic tank to put them into.  They caught a waterbug, another type of bug and about 12 minnows.  They were so excited and the big kids were all working as a team to catch more and more.

When we had headed down to catch up with the little ones, Jack was back with Daryl (or so I thought).  I peeked back at him once and saw him rolling an inner tube on the beach and I knew Daryl was at that end, so I thought he was safe.  Then as we were returning, a man came up and asked if I had a blonde little boy about “yay high” and said he’d sent him over to the kids at the inlet.  Ack!  My poor boy!

I looked back and saw that Jack had just found the rest of the kids and I ran back down to join him.  I have a sinus infection from this cold/bug I’ve been fighting since January and it’s apparently around the roots of my teeth on one side, and every step I take hurts like the dickens.  Running is waaaaay painful!  I kept trying to run very, very gracefully.  🙂  (Yes, I’ve been to the doctor and am now on some antibiotics to hopefully kick it!).

I finally reached my boy and gave him a hug.  He had gone looking for us a roundabout way and had ended up going way out of his way.  I asked if he was scared and he said, “Yes… well, no… just miserable.”  Poor boy!  He later announced that he had fun despite it.

Victoria got a leech between her toes and that was a pretty unpleasant experience.  She has a nasty wound from it tonight.

Despite the various traumas it was a really fabulous day though.  All of us want to do it again very soon.

Days like this make up for a whole slew of winter ones.  🙂

5 Fun Ways to Learn Today

1.  Have the kids take 3 things out to try to attract ants and guess a) which food the ants will like best and b) how long it will take for the first ant to try to carry some home.  If you’re feeling fancy, graph the results!

2.  Have the kids use slingshots to shoot mini marshmallows at each other and try to catch them in their mouths.  They have to ask each other a question first (what’s 6×7?  name 3 presidents…) and kids earn a marshmallow if they get it right.  We played this in the park with a whole gaggle of HS friends once and it was a hysterical hoot.

3.  Have them write the times tables on their arms and see if it helps them learn them by heart over the week.  A fabulous HS mom I know says it worked for her daughter!

4.  Have the kids launch spitballs with straws at a USA map and then name the capital of whatever state they hit.  😉

5.   Play division games with chocolate chips.  Each time they have to solve a division problem with the chocolate chips as manipulatives, and eat the remainers.  Have them call out problems to try to get as high of remainers as possible!  Keep going till you get down to none.

We’re off to the lake to play!  We’ll launch our own spitballs and such this evening.  🙂

Flown the Coop

I just went and checked on the baby ducks and saw that there’s nothing left but broken egg shells and a whole lot of feathers.  The parents have apparently led their babies off to the lake and they’re starting a new life.

What a difference a day makes!  Yesterday that little bitty nesting box was so crowded with that long-suffering mama duck and a whole mess of noisy, boisterous kids.

Victoria commented that she seemed to have the patience of a saint.  They were climbing on top of her and each other, jostling, fussing and generally being a roomful of feathery kids.

Today she and Daddy are teaching them to catch their own supper and soon enough they’ll go their own ways.  Ducks sure speed this family life business up, don’t they?!

The site of that empty nest is enough to make me count my blessings and remember that my own nest full of loud and crazy babies is temporary too, though.  Maybe that’s why she was so patient, because she realized it would pass so quickly and soon they’d be off on their own.

Or maybe she’s just a duck.  😉

In any case, it was a good reminder of why I homeschool.  I want all the minutes I can get with these boisterous little people.  I want to be the one to teach them to catch bugs and fish (so to speak) and to take them to the lake to learn about life.

If they’re going to drive anybody crazy, I want it to be me!

More of today’s mayhem here

 Enjoy your babies.  Soon enough they’re going to be off catching minnows.  Or something like that…

Parents of High Schoolers Seeking Drugs to Help Their Kids' Grades

I really wish this surprised me.

…Parents want their kids to excel in school, and they’ve heard about the illegal use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall for “academic doping.” Hoping to obtain the drugs legally, they pressure pediatricians for them. Some even request the drugs after openly admitting they don’t believe their child has ADHD….

Sing a Little Science!

Have you listened to the singing science songs? I love these and I used to nurse Anna and Jack to sleep with these playing in the background. They are so cute and do such a good job of teaching so many scientific concepts! If you don’t know about these treasures be sure to go take a listen with your kids. I had forgotten about them and plan to load up some science music ASAP. 🙂

A to Z — 26 Ways we do Science

You know we are not a curriculum kinda family.  We are a “ooh, look at that cool fungus!” kinda family and a “Mom, we have so many library books the basket broke!” kinda family.  We are the kind to wake the kids up and drive out to the country in the middle of an August night because the Northern Lights are supposed to be out.  We’re the kind where the walls are more likely to be decorated with posters of cross sections of cells than fine art and the kind where it’s a good thing if someone suddenly thrusts a really weird bug at you.

And somehow despite this (I dare say because of!), our kids are all well ahead of where they “should be” in science.  Better yet, they love the subject.

So when someone asked on an email list recently “what do you have planned for science next year?” I kinda went… hmmm.  More of the same?  🙂

Here’s a bit of our science curriculum.

Ant farms, triops tanks, worm boxes and other miniature communities

Bird watching

Collecting rocks, bugs, shells, bones, cool seeds….

DVD’s from Netflix (favorites are the “Rough Science” scientist reality show series, IMAX movies and shows about whatever themes the kids are into at the time)

Ecology Bus activities

Field trips to nature centers for events like maple syrup tapping, the swan release program and Conservation Days

Gardening (soil testing, composting, ammending, sprouting, treating pests, IDing weeds, increasing yields…)

Hatching monarch caterpillars on milkweed in the back yard and then hosting them inside to eventually release the butterflies

Identification Guides for bugs, trees, flowers, shells, rocks, tracks, you name it

Jeffers Petroglyphs, where we host homeschool days since there wasn’t anything like it for homeschoolers in our area (themes have included astronomy, geology, native plants and animals…)

Krampf’s weekly experiments

Lapbooks on science-related themes:  horses, carp, cells, gardening, you name it

Magic Schoolbus– the books and the show (get it on Netflix if your local station doesn’t carry it)

Nature centers, wildlife offices, wetlands and the DNR to talk to the rangers, get cool handouts, take part in community activities and more

Online coloring sheets, handouts, lesson plans, games and activities to correspond with whatever we’re studying

PBS shows and their websites like Zoom and Dragonfly TV

Questions!  Billions of questions and long talks about the answers

Reference books strewn about everywhere, from anatomy books to Bone Clones catalogs

Subscriptions to magazines like Ranger Rick, Kids Discover, National Geographic for Kids and the fabulous science magazines from the Cricket folks on everything from archeology to animals (many of these can also be found at your library)

Travel, and learning about the climate, habitats, inventions and species in whatever area we travel to

Using magnifying glasses, magnets, screwdrivers, microscopes, telescopes and other tools and nifties to learn how things work, behave and grow

Visiting children’s museums, zoos and other places that blend science, learning and fun

Web sites like OLogy, Science News for Kids and Exploratorium.

X-rays printed off the web of people, animals and various parts

You-tube has all sorts of fabulous videos — everything from science songs to fast action movies of seeds turning into plants and people trying really wacky experiments

Zillions of library books!