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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Chicken...

Big day today!

We spent lots of time doing this.

First thing this morning, we noticed a little pip in one of the eggs.

By 11:30, a bigger crack appeared, and the egg wobbled back and forth.

And then after much peeping and pushing, around 12:30...

Out popped a chick!

It began to scoot around and explore the incubator right away.

It rolled the other two eggs around,

and then finally snuggled up next to them.

Then we noticed a tiny crack on each of the other eggs.

Once the chick was nice and dry, and pecking the sides of the incubator, and stomping all over his egg-shell, we moved him into a large tank under a heat lamp.

No matter where our kitty went, the little chick followed.

"Are you my mother?"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2012 Garden Beginnings

The kids have gotten all their seedlings in the ground, but we had a cold night, and the cucumbers didn't make it.  The tomatoes aren't looking very happy either, but we have sturdy beans, pumpkins, and sunflowers.  Not sure yet how the peppers and carrots will do, but they are still alive :)

Anyone need any oregano?  Mine never did much last summer, but it thrived through the winter and is
10 times bigger than last year.  The parsley stayed around too, and it's huge.

We had a chayote squash get too ripe before we used it, so my son planted it, and it's growing in the corner.

Grandma gave us two more strawberry pots to add to our "patch" at the bottom of the steps.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

DIY Egg Candling: Which came first?

     Our newest endeavor:  egg hatching?  We went on a field trip to a local farm, and the kids were each given a fertile chicken egg to bring home.  We have been incubating ours and turning them regularly.  We have learned that different eggs need to be kept at different temperatures--chicken eggs at 99.5. The hardest part was getting the temperature right at first, but it has stayed pretty steady. (We have an inexpensive styrofoam incubator.) We also learned that humidity is very important, and we are keeping clean water in the little troughs in the bottom of the incubator. It's been a pretty easy process so far, (keeping the cat off the top being our biggest challenge.)

   In our estimation, they should hatch in about 8 more days.  We made a candler out of a juice pouch carton...

I used a pencil cup as a holder for the flashlight since it was so heavy.

I cut a hole in the top of the box.  I couldn't cut a good circle because of the thickness of the cardboard and my inability to use an exacto knife properly, so I used a circle punch to cut through a folded up piece of black paper and taped the paper to the top over the other hole.

I cut a hole in the bottom to fit the pencil holder with the flashlight standing up in it. 

Once the candler was set up, we turned off the room lights and set each egg on top to see what was inside.

All three of our eggs are showing veins and air sacs.

   Here are some resources we're finding helpful:

Let's Read and Find Out Science:  Where Do Chicks Come From? is nice for younger kids.  It's got really good drawings of the "anatomy" of an egg and showing what goes on inside the egg during different stages of development.

This website was recommended to me by the chick supplier from our local farm supply store.  Their Learning Center section has articles on getting started with eggs and hatching chicks, and there are some good pictures of candling eggs and a chick hatching in an incubator.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Displaying Kids' Artwork

On the console, a bowl of felted Alpaca fiber soap and an Eric Carle-inspired painting.

My kids create lots and lots of artwork, and I love to display it throughout the house.  We have kid-made art in almost every room--some pieces are never taken down, and others rotate or change.  I found a neat frame at Target that opens on a hinge so you can slide artwork in and out easily, and it even has a storage pocket inside for extras.  I've seen similar ones at Pottery Barn.  For canvases, some are mounted in wooden frames and some hang directly on the wall.  I found some nice frames at a craft store and used a coupon to get them for half price. Some pictures get stored away in a large portfolio that I stash under the bed.  Once a year or so, we sort through them, and any that we decide to weed out get photographed with the artist first, although I don't have the heart to get rid of very many of them.  

It's fun to live in an art gallery!

Jackson Pollock-inspired splatter paintings in the living room.

Front and center in the dining room.
Painted mat in the pantry.


Collages in the den.

Oil painting in my room.
"Masks" on the bulletin board in the school room.


Japanese Kokeshi dolls on a bookshelf.

This painting almost matches the view out the window beside it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hands-on: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

   My friend and I are leading a homeschool teen literature discussion group (Real Teens Read,) and we just wrapped up The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  We meet once a month for a book discussion and once a month for a field trip or movie related to the book of the month.  This month, we will be watching the 1939 movie version starring a very young Mickey Rooney.  At our discussion meeting this week, I wanted the teens to work together to build a raft using sticks and string (no glue allowed.)  We had talked about how Huck and Jim forged a friendship while on their journey and how they had to work together on the raft to maneuver along the Mississippi River.  Mark Twain uses the river as a symbol for freedom and transformation, and Huck and Jim find that nature provided them safety and harmony, while "civilized" society was often less than civilized. 

   The teens had to lay out sticks until they had an arrangement that was pretty straight, and then they had to figure out that they needed two longer sticks going across the bottom to elevate the platform out of the water.  They also had to wrap the string and tie it so everything would hold together.  This activity ended up keeping them busy for almost half  an hour.

Of course, we had to test them out to see if they would float.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Garden Chemistry: Waterways

   Did you ever do this experiment in elementary school?  I tried to find carnations, but I didn't have any luck.  I ended up with white daisies, and I let the boys choose the colors for the dye:  we went with orange and teal. We mixed a few drops of food coloring and water in separate jars.

   We read about how plants suck up water through thin tubes inside their stems.   Using some of our Sonlight science books (Biology Level I by R. W. Keller, The Usborne Library of Science World of Plants, and Usborne Starting Point Science, volume 1), we learned that plants have a system of vascular tissue in their stems which carry water and minerals up and down the stem.  Xylem and phloem surround the central core, the pith, in many plants.  Food and water is stored in the pith.  The xylem carries water and minerals upward from the roots, and the phloem brings food from the leaves (via photosynthesis) down to the lower parts of the plant.  To see this in action, we placed the white daisies in the jars of colored water and waited. 

   After several hours, we could already see tiny lines of color in the petals, like veins. 

   It took a couple of days for more noticeable results.  The color is very faint, but we can see a change.  I remember carnations having a more dramatic result when I did this experiment as a kid.  If I can find some, we might do this experiment again.

{I'm linking up with the Garden Party at Oregon Cottage}