Nature Walk

Spingtime is Here!

Well it finally happened! The weather finally broke! Sunday it was in the mid fifties and it has stayed that way! Thank heaven! So we have been busy out in the sunshine and soaking up the warm. We headed out on an adventure on Sunday out to the lake. The paradox of warm sunshine and ice burgs was very interesting! The ice packed the shore and was solid around the edges! It was high, and so varied. Some was as clear as glass, and some wad like snow still. I have never seen this much ice on the lake even after the warmer weather and I think it was unusual. I was really glad that we were able to get the girls outside to see it. Plus there is always a lot of fun to be had climbing rock, running around, and being  wee bit silly! Here are some of the pictures. I took a lot of them and some of them are purely artistic! I had a great time trying out my photography hobby a bit more then I have recently! It seems like our small adventures are always the best! Thank God for the beginning of spring!

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Silence is Golden

Today I made the girls go out to the park with me today for a walk. They were not totally interested, but I thought it was a good idea! Fresh air makes everything seem a little bit better! I took the sled and promised (bribed them) that I would pull them around. We started at the nature center and looked at the animals there, and then we headed out on the board walk. I was pulling them through the snow, while they looked for animal tracks. We saw deer tracks, rabbit tracks, and even (what we thought were) fox tracks! While we were walked, I would stop here and there to look around. What I noticed when we stopped was that girls couldn’t seem to be still. Hmmm….so I made a point to ask them for silence. It was hard, but when they were still, we could hear the birds, the wind moving through the grasses, and our own cold breath. What a great thing to take time to do. I realized that we hadn’t done that in a long time. It has been a  long time since I took time to be silent with my girls. Especially when that time is out surrounded by the gifts God created for us to enjoy!

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Silence is Golden!  How do you cultivate and embrace silence in your family?

Botany~ Flowers

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Well this is it! I am officially here to let you know that our school year is over! Ok…for right now! 😉 I have grand plans for an ocean study before we head there on vaction, but for all intensive purposes we are all done! This week we wrapped up our botany lessons by talking about flowers! Honestly it was a really fun lesson and great way to end the year! Bunny loved it and so did Pup! We even threw in a field trip to the Botanical Gardens! Bunny really seemed to absorb all the information that she needed to. We started off by talking about the parts of a flower. I was so excited to have received a beautiful boquet of flowers for Mothers Day. It had Lilys, Crsanthimums, roses, and carnations. It was the perfect way to explore all different kinds of flowers. We started with lily since it is the perfect flower to see the all the parts. After we diseceted the flower, Pup matched the parts of the flower to the nomenclature cards. Bunny and I labled them and added the parts of the the pistil and the stamen. Bunny really like this and we ended up dissecting about 6 flowers! While Bunny was working on the flowers we were able to talk about the different kinds of flowers, like the compound flower and the perfect flower, since we were working with so many different varieties.

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The next day, I pulled out some q-tips to tlk about pollination of flowers and what flowers are for! The idea came from here and the q-tip was colored yellow to represent the bee. We then moved the bee from flower to flower to show how the pollen needs to move from flower to flower. The girls loved this. We talked about how the pollen travels down the pistil to form a new seed. It was fun to “see” how this happened. I was able to go out to our garden and see the overy of the daffidols swollen up and the flower dead after it was pollonated. We also cut one open to see the seeds starting to form. Don’t you love it when the perfect learning materials are right where you need them?

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We ended the study with a trip to the botanical gardens! There wasn’t too much in bloom yet since the bulbs are mostly done and the preneinals are just getting planted, but there was tons of great stuff to look at! We had some friends join us which always makes it more fun! 🙂

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Here is our friend discovering a robin’s nest in the tree! There were eggs! We quickly left after that, but I did manage to grab a picture! 🙂

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As you can see we had a great time! With their interest in the flowers we managed to cover quite a lot our Botany album in a very short amount of time. It was a really fun way to learn and play at the same time! Happy Schooling (and almost summer)! I linking up over at the Weekly Kids Co-Op, Virtual Montessori Fair, and The Ultimate Homeschool Link Up!

PS: As you can see, I am still having some issues working out the pictures! I promise to get it worked out soon! 🙂

 

Montessori Monday~ Botany~ Stem Week

Hi there everyone! I am happy to report that the this new site is ready for some new posts! Hooray! I have missed sharing all our fun! However, I am begging you to hang in there with me, things are messy all over, but we are working on getting it all there!

Last week we spent a lot of time talking about the stems of a plant! We observed how the plant takes water up from the roots by letting some celery suck up some food colored water! The girls love seeing this! It is such a basic experiment that never fails to seem like magic to kids! My girls are no exception! It was really amazing to see how the food coloring really allows you to see the veins of the leaf too!

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While we waited for the celery to become magical, we talked about the two different types of stems~ Woody and herbaceous. After a quick talk about the differences we walked the neighbor hood figuring out which ones were which in the plants we saw.  The girls were quick to understand it. I have found that although it is fun to sort cards, most of the time my girls would prefer to get out there and see it for real!

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Another thing we did last week was talk about the parts of a woody steam and look at an old stump in the neighbors yard! (She didn’t mind). Bunny thought it was interesting that they get new rings every year.

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Finally, to make the week a little fun, we decided to paint plants with all their parts! Not only that, but I thought it would be fun to use mediums to see how different each picture looked. We used water color pencils, watercolors, and tempera paint. They loved it, plus they got to see and feel how different mediums worked. Plus they got to think about the parts of a plant

 

So there you have what we have been up to with our Botany fun! I am sorry for the sideways pictures! I have been trying and trying to fix this, but I am new to Word press and cant figure it out! I am going to link up over at Montessori Monday, so be sure to stop by there for more amazing Montessori fun! I will be back tomorrow with lots more fun! Happy Schooling!!!

 

Botany~ Root Week

Today we were able to get some work done on our botany unit. We were stopped last week by all the spring cleaning, so we never got to the roots. So this week we are exploring how they work, what they do, and what they are sensitive to! We started by talking about the parts of a root and what they do. Usually we use the Montessori botany charts, today I used the plants that we have been growing to illustrate the parts and the jobs of the roots! We were able to see the long roots of the tomato plants, the root hairs and the the root tip. We also could see how the roots in the clear cups started to grow toward the outside, but then turned to go back into the dirt. This allowed us to talk about how roots don’t like the light and will go back toward the dark because the dark is where the water is! Then we went to park to a small pond to see how the roots grow toward the water. I was excited to go because I knew that they would be able to see the roots going right into the pond. It was better then a chart because it was for real! The girls were really interested in seeing the roots all over. We walked along some as far as we could see them and Bunny was impressed by how far they went. It was a great way to explore and discover together!

Exploring how roots grow in all directions

 
These are the roots of our tomato plants. Think its time to transplant? 🙂

This was a tiny plant that we needed to pull because there was another one in the pot. So we talked about how hard it was to pull out of the soil and how roots are there to hold the plant in the ground by forming a network of roots.

Just because they are cute.

Roots along the water that turn and head into the water.

We also got to see some pretty spring wildflowers that were growing! I took some pictures using my new camera and they look so pretty! I wanted to shoe you, even though they don’t have much to do with the root study! 🙂

And this crazy girl is so silly!
 
We had a great time and I am hoping that Bunny will draw some of what we talked about today and write a little bit. I love it when we are able to use real things to explore how things work! It is the beauty of learning and I wouldn’t trade these discovery days for anything!
 




5 Tips to a Fabulous Nature Walk

Ok….its six, but five sounded better! Nature walks and spring go together like peanut butter and jelly. However, if you are like me, a month will go by before you make it out to a park for more then a trip to the playground! Over the past few years, I have realized though that those moments out in the open nature are some of the best we have! The girls explore, learn, and have fun. The time we have had together outside has lead me to learn a few tips to make these moments better and less stressful! Here are some of those tips that made our outside time better:



1) Find Your Spot: I think that one of the most important things to do is find a go-to place for your family! We like to go out by Lake Erie. My mom has a park they go to by a river. Another blogger goes and visits the ocean. There is another blogger heads out to spend time in a field of Bluebells. There are literally a ton of wonderful places that you could go, but find that one place that you know will always deliver a good time for you! That way, when the time is right, you will know just where to go!



2) Keep things Simple: There are a million ideas out there of wonderful things that you can do while out exploring nature. However, most of the time simple is better. I have tried looking for shapes, finding the alphabet in nature, searching for certain birds, rocks, leaves, and even printing out a scavenger hunts. These things can be fun, but mostly they really just add stress. Requiring a person to find something while outside makes it a task rather then an exploration. Nature is always changing and so there is always something new. So dont stress trying to find the perfect activity to take on a nature walk, just go out!



3) Pack Light: When we started going out for nature walks, I would pack a backpack with field guilds, paper and colored pencils for sketching, nets, plastic bags, first aid kit, wipes, water, snacks, magnifying glass, and other odds and ends. Whew! Do you how much of that we used- almost none! I just ended up feeling like a pack mule for the hour or so we were outside.We arent hikers by nature, I found that most of the time we didnt go that far from the car, so many of those things I didnt need to try and keep track of it. We left alot of it in the car and before I knew it we were down to about nothing! Things got alot easier and more fun for everyone. All we really need is water (usually leave it in the car while we walk), a snack if we are close to a meal, band aids, wipes (for after), and most of all the camera (the main thing I carry)! All the other stuff we really just didnt need. Research about what we saw was easier done at home from a picture, the treasures can sit on the floor of the car until we get home, and we use the wipes when we are all done! So keep it simple!



4) Dont Over Plan: Here, where we live the weather changes all the time, so we tend to find it better to just go when the weather permits. Nothing is more fun, and inspires more excitement then the announcement that you are going out! We love to just jump outside. It refreshes everyone and learning seems real. Sometimes we plant to look for something that we are learning about, but mostly we just see what we see! Sometime this will lead to another trail of learning!



5) Dont Stay on the Path: Unless of course there is alot of poison ivy! 😉 But honestly, be willing to head into the unknown and the messy! Expect that you will get messy and go with it! Nature walks are all about the smells, the sounds, the feel, and the sights! So dig right in and live it. Messy means you are learning something for real and exploring off the beaten path will make the most lasting impression!



6) Take Your Time: Little ones love to look and look! That means there is alot of stopping, touching, and wandering! That’s perfect! Dont rush it. Stay a while or a little, just follow the child! This is will allow you to take those learning moments as they come and to see things that you will not want to miss!



So there are my tips! We love our moments out in nature! Looking at everything and I think that it is something that anyone can do, even if you arent nature people like me! 🙂 I would love to have a few more tips for our time outside though, so share your ideas! What do you do while you are out exploring? Do you have tried and true tips for making nature an amazing experience for all?

Go Fly a Kite!



Today spring showed itself for real! It was 60 degrees, sunny and windy! We even had our first crocus! The girls found some kites in the garage and I suggested we head out to the park for some kite flying! It was always a tradition in my family to fly kites on Easter at my Grandma’s house. Its not Easter I know, but I realized that I dont think that my girls have ever gotten out to fly them! Yikes! So off we went! If you didnt see all the ice on the lake, it would look just like spring! However, I know that it is only a tease! We will have snow again by mid week (or so they say)!

 
After we put the kites away, the girls wanted to explore the ice pack on the shore of the lake! So we did. Who doesnt love HUGE chunks of ice! Dont worry, no one went out on it, we just stepped on the edges!
 

 
I hope you had a happy weekend too! We are back to school and work tomorrow! See you then! Happy {almost} Spring!


Fall Nature Tray and Lots of Questions

Today was all sunny this morning, so we were off on a leaf collecting walk! I have been wanting to dip some leaves in beeswax and today I thought  would be the perfect day! It was! The girls loved picking out the prettiest leaves and walking around our neighborhood. When we got home they glued some of their leaves on paper in different designs while I dipped them in beeswax! They turned out super well and very pretty! They are the perfect addition to our nature tray! I have moved our nature tray into our living room and it is nice to see all the little things that we have picked up on our walks! This is the first time the girls are actually putting things on it! In case you dont know what a nature tray, it basically is a tray that the children (or the teacher) will add natural objects that are either found or collected for observation. The tray sits on a tray and the child is free to observe, clean, match, touch, and just explore what is there. It is a great hands on way for the kids to connect with nature! I love having magnifying glasses available in case there is something that needs to be observed more closely! I know that some other things that I have seen in other nature tray are nature guild books, three part cards, and sometime an aquarium for any little critters that come to visit! I am hoping that as the seasons change we can change the tray too. I would love to see lots of pretty things out from nature accessible for them! My dream is to find an old typeset tray and use it for our things and then sort them by color! I like a beautiful natural rainbow! I think that it is easy for me to forget that nature is everywhere and even a walk around out neighborhood can be a source of natural discovery! Sometimes my girls will find things just playing in our backyard and I love that they are so drawn to nature and can find it everywhere! How do your kids play, explore, and discover nature?

 
Now the questions I am talking about are all my own! I am really questioning the quality of the work that is being done here. If you have any thoughts on this I would love some input! I really love the great lessons and I love the way everything goes together, but I feel like I am grasping for straws trying to figure this out! Bunny has a lot of interests, and we are learning new things, but I feel like these things are sporadic and disconnected. We talk about electricity, conifer trees, rocks, horses, and now Helen Keller. None of the work is connected and I feel like we should have a longer term project or some way to direct things better. But I really have no idea how to do this without telling her what to do. Plus her inability to read and write well makes it harder to have her work independently. I want to have things all connected, but I feel like we have to move forward with the albums. But I think she loves the album work and I have a hard time figuring out how to give her regular presentation and still have time to do research and still have time for Pup. Poor Pup has been a little left out since I have been so busy with Bunny’s work and she is ready for more, but I just dont have time unless Bunny works more on her own! So what to do? I want to do so much more and I think we are going to need to put in more time, but I also need to keep other things going too like cleaning, cooking, and all the other mommy thing! What do you do? How long do you school and how do you deal with more then one age level? Again, if you have an idea, please share! 🙂 I hope you are all having a great start to the week! I am linking up to Montessori Monday, so be sure to stop by there for more Montessori fun! Happy Schooling!


Tree, Trees, and More Trees!

Today we were back into trees study! I am really surprised that we got to a day two on this! Bunny seems really interested in it and I am doing some work with Pup too! It seems like the perfect way to get into the feeling of fall too! I am hoping to do a fall theme for Pup here next week! So we started the day with all the normal work. Pup and I worked on the parts of a tree puzzle and some spindles. Bunny read a book, then decided she wanted to write a book. It was a supposed to be be a surprise from me, but I needed to help her with some spelling! She wrote a book about conifer trees all on her own!

 

Ever since we have been doing sandpaper letter, Pup thinks she can read! Its really cute, but I keep telling her we need more practice!

After the puzzle, she traced the control chart! She really loves to trace things!

Bunny wanted to do some grammar work! So I offered to let her make some noun family groups. She loved the idea. With all her talk about perfectionism, I thought that she may want to use the moveable alphabet to form words so she doesnt have to earase them! She loved the idea! We’ll see, but I think she may finally be interested in using this material!

Writing her book!



Since we were still working on trees, I took a tip from Annicles on ways to incorporate math into the study of trees! She gave me the idea to help Bunny graph the number of conifer trees in an area. This is a math work we really havent had the chance to get to! So we wanted to look for the different types of trees on our street. This led us to a discussion of the difference between conifer trees and deciduous trees. After talking about that, we headed out to our street to count the trees! We found 8 conifer trees and over 30 deciduous trees! While we were out I took a chance to reinforce the parts of a tree with Pup too! She got it! When we got home, Bunny and I talked about the parts of a chart and proceeded to make a bar graph of the information we gathered! She loved it! In fact we took a basket of acorns, rocks, and buckeyes off our nature tray to graph after that! It was alot of fun, plus it covered some math with our tree work! Later on we did a few story problems and she had fun with that! I find that if I tell her a little story using numbers, she can do alot of the problems in her head! Pretty impressive!

This is Pup pointing out the parts of the tree!

 
So there you have it! Trees are what we are doing here! Conifer trees to be exact. I asked Bunny tonight where she thinks they grow? Is it just around here or are there other places in the world that they grow too. She wasnt sure. I am hoping that we can get into some geography too! I hope your school week is going well! Happy Schooling!


Cosmic Botany Baby!

Today was really a great school day! It was great in the fact that it didnt  happen at home! It didnt happen or even start in the school room! It was all inspired by Bunny’s looking through the fossil book! She found a picture of an Amber fossil and wanted to know what it was. We read all we could about it in the book,  but she still wanted to know more. Like Where is amber found, and what kind of trees made it? We found out that conifer trees were the trees that secreted the resin that formed amber. I also found out that sap and resin are not the same thing! All of this reading led us to start studying conifer trees! Using the plant kingdom work from Montessori for Everyone, we talked about where conifer trees were in the classification chart and then I pulled out the free plant book they offer and we read the first few pages that talked about vascular and non-vascular plants and flowering and non flowering plants. She thought it was cool and we started to put all of the information on paper.

 


 As she narrated her report to me, we thought of some more questions and I thought that this was the perfect time for a going out/ nature walk! So we packed up and headed out to investigate conifer trees and absorb the fall weather! Our first stop was a beautiful board walk that has some other nature trials off of it. Unfortunately, the trails were closed due to bow hunting season, so we headed out to another park!

 


 We got to wander around the forest for a while and found some very pretty things for our nature tray! We didnt however find any real pine trees until the end of our walk. When we did, we explored the sap that was dripping on them (read we were covered in it) and we really looked at the bark and needles. Bunny was excited that she can now identify a conifer by the bark. She learned so much by touching and looking the tree! One of the questions she had when we were researching, was how did the seeds come out of a pine cone. So we sat there and pulled on apart! We found, what she thought was how it happened. There is a small thin piece that layers on the top side of each ridge of the pine cone (there maybe more technical terms for this, I guess we need parts of a pine cone cards). This thin layer is what holds the seed. When the ridges open, the thin layer with the seed falls out! With all of this work that Bunny is doing, I didnt forget about Pup! I talked with her a bit about the parts of a plant! Tomorrow I plan on using our botany puzzles to help her learn them!

 

 
All of this work led us back home! Bunny headed back downstairs to finish her report! On her way down stairs she was looking at our timeline of life and she found the beginning of conifer trees! She was really interested to see the they were in existence before the dinosaurs! After all this reflection and learning, we finished her report! Here is what she came up with and I was really proud of her!
 

 

 So there you have it! Work is happening here in a rather organic child led way right now and I love it! The only thing is that I worry since we didnt do math or anything else that we are going to fall behind. I know that this is what Montessori is all about, a child getting so involved in research that they touch on a bunch of other things through it. It is working, but its hard to trust! However, I love that it can happen and that I have the chance to give these days to my girls to learn! Happy Schooling!

chinchillalelia@mailxu.com