Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hackberry Flat Wetland

Last week, several families in our homeschool group took a field trip to
It was an amazing experience for all of our children.
Even the girls got involved. One of the activities was kind of messy, especially since it had rained three inches the day before. Each child got a net and explored the flat with it, collecting as many different specimens of macro and micro invertebrates that they could find.

Some of the macro invertebrates were obvious and there was no need to take them to the classroom to identify. This is a crayfish. We pulled out several different species. We also learned that a healthy wetland has lots of these, food for birds!
We did find many, in lots of different sizes.

This is a Cricket Frog tadpole that eldest son pulled up in his net.
The lady leading the children was a biologist and identified everything we pulled out. It was so wonderful to have someone so knowledgeable and enthusiastic to guide our children.

Here is the cricket frog, a male, she showed us his air sack near his mouth. She also showed us how to identify a cricket frog. The come in all different colors but all of them have a tiny triangle on the top of their head.

We brought our specimens that we had collected back to the classroom and discovered that we had many more things than we thought.

This is a dragonfly larvae.

Can you see that baby crayfish?
Also notice that we poured them in a sink with no drain pipes. She explained that she would just put a bucket under the sink and then take its contents back to the flat when we were finished.

We also discovered micro invertebrates that she captured in a dropper and placed on slides that she showed on the wall. It was amazing. We saw Spider mites, Midge larvae and coco pods. I didn't get any pictures of these, they were a bit small. Another interesting creature was called a water boatmen. It was small and cute, had 2 legs just like the paddles of a boat, thus the name.

This is a photograph of a yummy activity that they did with the children. It taught the children the layers of the wetland. Here are the ingredients:
Place 1 piece of BEDROCK (vanilla wafer) in the bottom of a clear plastic cup
Add 2 spoonfuls of SUBSOIL (chocolate puffed rice cereal) on top of bedrock
Add 1 spoonful of WETLAND MUCK (chocolate pudding)
Add 1 spoonful of WATER (whipped topping colored blue)
Add 3 CATTAILS (stick pretzels)
Add 2 shakes DUCKWEED (green sprinkles)
Add 1 animal (gummy frog, fish or bug)
Now eat. YUMMY!

It was a beautiful day to explore God's creation. Isn't it amazing that the more you look at it, the more you believe in Him!
Here are a couple verses that have crossed my mind, recently.

Genesis 1:20-21 The God said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens." So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters bounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
And God (who is the author of order) likes order:

II Corinthians 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

May you see the power of God in nature today. It is such a beautiful day.
Blessings, Suzie

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Making Chainmail

During the Middle Ages, one of a knights' most prized posessions was his armor which was very expensive. One book explained it to the children in terms like this.

If we needed to buy a suit of armor today, it would cost as much as a jumbo jet would cost us.

That is how expensive it was back then.

Needless to say, most people didn't go around buying suits of armor however most soldiers wore chainmail. Chainmail is made of small rings linked together in a particular pattern.

Some advantage of chainmail during that time period were:
It was cost effective, while not cheap, less expensive than armor

It was lightweight

It could be put on quickly

It provided some protection against arrows and swords

You begin with rings. You can make them yourself however we chose to purchase them already made. Ours were aluminium ones purchased on ebay. This seller had removed all the sharp edges, to make it a bit easier to work with and more comfortable to wear.
Total cost of this project was about $35.00. It is the type of project that can continue if wanted. Ds has decided to continue it, however he is buying his own links:)

There were some directions included in our curriculum, however we found the best way for ds to understand the design of chainmail was to enlarge the photo and just let him look at it for a while.

When you see how it goes together, you can put it together.

When you get finished with a good size piece of your chainmail, it should have an accordion effect, but only in one direction.

This has been a wonderful project for ds. If you have read our blog before, you know that he is a computer, science and math kid so pulling him into history can be a bit challenging at times. Often, finding a hands on activity to draw your children in takes a bit of creativity on the part of the teacher, but the end result is enthusiasm about the topic of study.

Blessings for creativity with your children,

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Medieval Festival

Last weekend was a very fun weekend. It was the first part of our Tapestry of Grace Year 2 Unit 1 celebration. It has been a wonderful travel through Medieval History.
Here are the children in their costumes, in the parking lot of the Medieval Fair in Norman, Oklahoma. I have to say that I was expecting something a bit different however, we really enjoyed the human chess game and the blacksmiths. I appreciated learning about medieval blanket pins, a large take on a modern safety pin. As impressed as I was, I really should have take some photos of that, but was so enthralled that I didn't.
Dear son, dressed as Robin Hood, or maybe he was one of Chaucer's Canterbury Tale companions. He could have passed for either.
He worked tirelessly on a fair size piece of home made chainmail. He was wearing it modestly under his cape. Chainmail is not easy to make!

Dear daughter is really growing up, I didn't realize how much until this dress was on her. She is a virtual young lady.

Youngest son, specifically requested a Teutonic Crusader Knight costume. I did my best and he was proud. Big brother even made a chain mail clasp so his helmet would stay on. All the costumes used patterns and clearence fabric, so we did our best to keep the cost down.

Our journey was a long one spanning from about 500 AD to about 1500 AD.
Some of the things the children really enjoyed studying about this period in history included The Byzantine Empire, Rise of Muslimism, Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chauncer, Otto of the Silver Hand, that we read outloud, Catapults, Knights and Castles, Monks and Monestaries, Charlemegne, Viking Raiders,
The Papal System, The Crusades, Marco Polo, The Feudal System of Government, and so much more. It was good for me to run through this list. We did a lot!
We finished our celebration by attending a History and Geography fair with our local homeschool group. We prepared a display board on the Feudal system of government, showing clothing, food and shelter for each level. Dear son wrote a bit at the top that discussed the advantages and disadvantages of this system as well as a written discussion about the constant battle between Pope and King. Dear daughter discussed the different types of food, clothing and shelter. Youngest son helped to cut out the letters and to find the pictures. It was very interesting and we learned a lot.
We will spend tomorrow taking this apart and putting it in a notebook for safe keeping.
We also displayed oldest son's map overlay project from this unit.

We displayed a model castle that the boys worked on together.

At our table, we served pottage (or chicken and barley soup) from cups, without spoons, roasted chicken wings and fresh braided sweet bread that folks could pull apart with their hands.

Overall this unit has been a great success. I really like Tapestry of Grace as the curriculum for our family. It fits our lifestyle very well.
Blessings, Suzie

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Birthday Boy

Our youngest son, Joshua just had his 10th birthday. It was quite a fun event in our home.

Ready, Set, Blow!
And he blew them all out!

We have a tradition in our home. For your birthday, you get a home baked cake from mom and your favorite dinner. We call it the birthday supper.
Dear son came to me about a week before his birthday asking for a cake with a tank on it.
We live near a military town so I thought that would be a breeze, however after searching the local party store, I was stumped for ideas. Nothing I could find was what I wanted.
If you have read my blog, you know that my dear grandmother passed away this past July and in my Memior of her I mentioned her passion for decorating cakes. She left me her Kopykake, which is a bit like using an overhead projector, only it points downward, onto a cake. I searched the internet for just the right color book page to make this cake happen. I was 16 years old the last time I used grandma's Kopykake, and now she was no longer here to coach me. It was a very emotional experience, but with great success. Grandma would be proud of me and dear son was very impressed as well. It was a success on both fronts.

Grieving is a really funny thing. You never know when it is gonna hit you and then there are things that you avoid, knowing that they are going to be painful. I think that I was avoiding using this wonderful tool, knowing that it was going to be a painful, not realizing the growth that would take place.
Now how did I get from birthday party to grieving???
Back to birthday party.

Later, our family visited a place in a nearby town called Incredible Pizza. They have lots of unhealthy things to eat, buffet style as well as an entire back room full of game machines, bumper cars, bowling, Indy racetrack and so much more. Lots of fun was had by all.

While going through some of my grandmothers things, I found the little study book that was given to her when she became a Christian, upon her confession and baptism into Christ.
I know she is sitting at the right hand of God.
I look forward to being there with her, some day. It will be glorious!

Blessings for a heavenly day, Suzie