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Monday, May 31, 2010

Nature Journal: Fly Away butterflies!

All six of our caterpillars emerged, but one little guy (the one that never made it to the top) didn't emerge successfully. His wings were crumpled and he couldn't make it all the way out of the chrysallis shell. He was able to stand, but kept toppling over.(He is the one in the background sitting in the jar lid.)
The boys decided to put him outside in the woods so he could at least enjoy the fresh air. After we sat the others on the orange slices, they would unfurl their proboscis and start sipping right away. Two of them gained so much energy, they hopped up to a leaf of the hollyhock plant and began to mate. We released them all and cheered as they took flight. 

One little guy stuck around and checked out some of our wildflowers before heading on his merry way. 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Great American Postcard Swap: 50 Card Pick-up

This Teach-Me About the United States 50 Flash Cards Games in Color set was such a cool find at the thrift store, and all the cards are intact. Each card lists state facts on one side and shows the region on the other side. We are sure that the population data is way out of date, though, since the printing date for the set is 1962! It's fun to look through the facts and compare the data to what we've found in more recent resources.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Our very hungry caterpillars

We've been raising painted lady butterfly catterpillars for the past 14 days.  This past Wednesday and Thursday, all of them climbed to the top of the cup and formed a chrysallis, except for one poor fellow who stayed at the bottom of the cup.  We carefully transferred the hanging ones to the top of our tank and placed the other guy on a paper towel at the bottom of the tank.  We learned that the plants preferred by painted lady butterflies are thistle, hollyhock, and parsley, so we put a parsley and a hollyhock plant inside the tank, hoping to coerce an egg or two to be left behind before we release the butterflies. 

We ordered the caterpillars here http://www.earthsbirthday.org/, and when they arrived, they were all safe and sound in a cup with food.  The Earth's Birthday website also has some nice downloads of activity sheets.  The boys all have a folder to keep up with everything:  they have been drawing pictures of the different stages of development we have observed, and they have measured the caterpillars daily until the chrysallis stage.  The caterpillars doubled in size after the first day and grew to a whopping two inches long before heading to the top of the cup!

These are some more great resources to accompany a butterfly study:

The Let's Read and Find Out Science book From Caterpillar to Butterfly follows the development of the painted lady butterfly.  This whole series of books is a favorite.  I also love Gail Gibbons books-- this one is so detailed, teaching the stages of development along with the anatomy of the butterfly.  And, who can resist Eric Carle http://www.eric-carle.com/home.html?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Great American Postcard Swap {Georgia}

The Peach State is the home of Coca-Cola, and you can take a virtural tour of the World of Coke (www.worldofcoca-cola.com/). Pharmacist John Stith Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886, and it originally contained wine!  

Stone Mountain, Georgia is the location of the world's largest high-relief sculpture, the Confederate Memorial Carving which you can view at www.stonemountainpark.com/outdoors-recreation/outdoor-detail.aspx?attractionid=486.

There is also some pirate lore associated with Georgia, and Blackbeard Island may still conatin some lost treasure (www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-929). 

There are some teacher resources to accompany
the Magic Tree House guide to Pirates at

Here are some more good reads about pirates:

One of my son's favorites, Edward and the Pirates.

Rip-roaring fun in How I
Became a Pirate

A visual museum of information
in DK's Eyewitness Pirate.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Great American Postcard Swap {Florida}

65,755 square miles of beautiful beaches and an abundance of wildlife. Florida is the home of Gatorade (www.gatorade.com/default.aspx#home) and Tim Tebow, the first homeschooled student to be nominated for the Heisman trophy.

Cape Canaveral is home to Florida's space program, the launching point of Apollo 11, and the space shuttles Challenger and Discovery. NASA offers a wealth of resources for educators at www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/index.html. On humid days, rain clouds can form inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space center because it has such a high ceiling!

Other fun facts: Benjamin Green from Miami Beach invented suntan lotion in 1944 and called it Coppertone Suntan Cream, and Clearwater boasts the highest rate of lightning strikes per capita than anywhere else in America. In certain parts of Florida, Asian catfish have actually been spotted crossing the road!

Great American Postcard Swap {Delaware}

The America the Beautiful series is a nice series which you can probably find at your local library. Full color photographs and many fun facts make this a great choice for younger learners to investigate the states. The book about Delaware contains large renderings of the state flag and state seal, making it easier for students to draw their own in their state notebooks. Also included are a timeline of the state's history and virtually everything you would want to know about the state if you care to go beyond the typical state facts. There are even writing prompts and art project ideas, as well as science, technology, and math projects related to the study of the state. 

These books are a good starting point with plenty of information to lead to further study about key figures and events. For instance, we read that Howard Pyle, the "father of American illustration," was from Wilmington. One of his students was N.C. Wyeth, father of Andrew Wyeth. This led us to check out the book The Brandywine Heritage by Richard McLanathan and read more about these great American artists. We also discovered that some of Wyeth's works are housed in our neighboring city's art museum which we will be visiting this week. We found Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates and flipped through it to see all the detailed illustrations.

We also read about Thomas Garrett, an abolitionist who helped thousands of runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. To learn more about the Underground Railroad in Delaware, go to www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/underground/de2.htm.
It is such fun to go on these scavenger hunts where one thing leads to another which leads to another. Discovery learning rocks!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nature Walk {In our neck of the woods}

Walking in the woods after a thunderstorm and before another one started.  
The wonderful scent of honeysuckle and wet trees.

We went on a wildflower hunt:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

My great grandmother. I never knew her, but my
granddaddy had her eyes.

"Don't ever be your own worst critic. Always try to be your own best ally. 
There are times when it helps to acknowledge that:
 'I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be, 
but most people are unaware 
that I am so much more than what they see.'"
--Douglas Pagels

Monday, May 3, 2010

Great American Postcard Swap {Connecticut}

The Constitution State was the fifth state to become part of the United States. It's capital, Hartford, was the home town of Noah Webster who published the first American dictionary in 1828.

It is interesting to look up words in this original edition and notice how much things have changed.

We have a copy I purchased on Amazon (they are pricey,) and it is our "go to" resource for vocabulary study. We use it alongside our "modern" student dictionary.

Orange, Connecticut is home to the PEZ company (you can view an interacitve timeline at www.pez.com/history/). We learned that PEZ was originally intended to be marketed to adults as an alternative to smoking, and PEZ even produced dispensers that resembled cigarette lighters!

The best candy ever!
If you want to spend some time learning more about Connecticut, this state unit study is loaded with links and printables, including virtual visits to some of Connecticut's historical sites. 

This link will take you to a page with some free coloring/labeling printables of the state map, state bird, state animal, state insect, a dot-to-dot map activity, and a flag/quiz activity. (Note that some of the printables require membership to the site, but these I have listed are available for free.)