(Sung to the tune of "Head and Shoulders, Knees, and Toes")
That's the song the Wisconsin Explorers book used to teach proper insect recognition, so that is the song the kids sang, at the top of their lungs, as they wandered the backyard in search of "bugs" to capture and examine during last Thursday's weekly science activity.
They managed to catch the two insects most common to our yard: mosquitoes and ants.
We examined the insects and identified their various parts and then filled in the workbook pages.
When we were done we squashed the mosquito and returned the ant to the tree we found it on. Just doing our little part toward survival of the fittest!
Last week when my nieces were over and I made them do a science lesson, what they really wanted to do was make cookies for a snack. Unfortunately it was the day before my grocery shopping day so I didn't have many of the necessary ingredients to make chocolate-chip cookies. They kept begging to make a snack, so finally I found some flour tortillas and cherry pie filling and let them experiment. They buttered,
scooped pie filling,
tasted pie filling,
rolled in aluminum foil,
and after warming them in the oven they tasted them. They got mixed reviews.
It was fun to see the cousins working together to make their snack, even if it wasn't cookies. Next time I'll try to have chocolate chips available.
Earlier this week it rained quite a bit in our part of the country, and when that happens two things show up in our yard with amazing rapidity: mosquitoes and mushrooms. I dislike mosquitoes too much to focus any scientific attention on them, but mushrooms don't suck my blood and are thus fair game for exploration. Some of my nieces were at our house again today, so they were forced to join in the science "fun."
I told them that they were going on a mushroom hunt and to find and bring back as many types as possible (I also reminded them to not taste anything and to wash their hands and arms really well afterwards, so don't worry too much). They found four specimens - three growing out of the ground and one on the bark of a dead oak tree. Ian was quick to realize that the three ground types they found were all growing where tree stumps used to be, which was a good opportunity to explain that mushrooms are involved in the decomposition process and are different from green plants in how they live and grow and also in their structures.
I didn't have a mushroom guide or any other material to show the kids, so we mostly looked, touched, and commented on the things we saw. Then the kids went off to play and I tossed the fungus in the garbage.
(When the kids found the "thing" growing on the dead tree, they also knocked a big chunk of bark off and discovered an ant nest underneath. It was interesting to see the ants scurrying around and trying to get their white eggs back undercover - it was a cool side note to the mushroom hunt.)
Happy science, everyone!
PS - if you happen to know the names of any of these mushrooms, please comment!
I think I have mentioned here before that camping is a project, so I wasn't going to do a post about our most recent trip (our 11th summer in a row of us camping with my sister and her family), but since my brother-in-law asked "Is this going to show up on your blog" after every innocent photograph I took I decided that I would do a post in his honor. We'll call it "The Brother-In-Law Project."
On Friday night the "BIL Project" involved roasting and eating marshmallows and s'mores.
On Saturday the project included hiking,
children getting their faces painted at the Waubeka Flag Day celebration,
a nature lesson on Bluebirds,
and Flag Day fireworks.
On Sunday the "Brother-In-Law Project" consisted of hiding from the rain, taking down a soggy camp, and finally some time spent at the Ozaukee County Pioneer Village.
A good project was had by all brothers-in-law present.
This week's science experiment is really more of an activity, but it teaches kids to observe the world around them, so I think it fits in here. Each summer since Ian was three years old I have headed off to the nearest State Park Office and picked up that year's "Wisconsin Explorer" workbook for each of the kids (this is Cam's first year).
These little workbooks are filled with naturalist-themed activities that kids can do either in the state park or at home. Once enough activities have been completed, the kids can turn return the forms that are included in the book and get a neat patch in return. There are nine books and patches altogether, three for ages 3-5, three for ages 6-8. and three for ages 9-11. Ian is working on his sixth badge, Brynn on her fourth, Blair on her second, and Cam is working on his very first badge, so these books are a summertime tradition in our family.
This week we decided to learn about birds and feathers. The activity in the little kids' book was to observe a Robin and draw a picture of what it did. Since it was raining outside we relied on observations made out the front window. The older kids' book had them find a feather and decide what sort of bird it came from and how it was lost. Thankfully Ian has a "look what I found, Mom" feather collection, so we didn't have to slog around the wet neighborhood to find a feather.
It was a fun way to spend a soggy afternoon indoors, while still learning about the world we live in.
There's camping, and then there is CAMPING. Do you know what I mean? Well, let me explain. Regular old camping is what happens when a family loads up their gear and drives to a campground, sets up their tent or camper in beautiful weather, has fun during the day doing relaxing camping activities, cooks marshmallows in the evening, goes to sleep at night in a tent (or camper) where the windows are open to catch the breeze so you don't get too hot, and then goes home at the end of the trip saying "that was lots of fun". CAMPING is when seven moms load up their thirty-two kids (plus one on the way) and go camping as a group (with the dads mostly away at work), the weather is chilly, the activities are not relaxing (imagine 20 of those kids riding bikes around the loop - I'm thinking bike safety school might be in order if we ever do a repeat), marshmallows are inhaled at an alarming rate, raccoons make their presence very clear, the nights drop into the "very chilly" category, and the kids scream "THAT WAS AWESOME! WHEN CAN WE GO AGAIN?" on the car ride home.
Which one do you think more closely describes our recent trip with our homeschool group? I really hope you picked CAMPING!
When we could pry the kids off their bikes, we took nature walks,
ate all kinds of tasty camp food,
(pancake batter pre-mixed in a milk jug gets a big thumbs up from me)