Monday, February 28, 2011

Rushing the season

There are no signs of spring outside yet so we've been forced to buy some spring and bring it inside. I thought I'd share it with you all in case you need some spring as much as I do.

The groundhog did promise an early spring... I'm sure it's right around the corner!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


We've just finished our mini-study of snow. It all started with our FIAR lessons on Katy and the Big Snow.

We were so excited to find, in our plethora of small vehicles, a bright red snowplow! Little Man used it to clear the roads on his town mat:

We moved on to Snowflake Bentley, a book we just love, and we found a wonderful video at the library that intersperses illustrations from the book with actual pictures of Wilson Bentley, his home in Vermont AND lots of pictures of his actual photos of snowflakes! It was a gem and definitely worth looking for.

As it happened, there were several perfect snowfalls during this time. We could actually hold a black glove out our kitchen window and capture snowflakes to examine with the magnifying glass. Later, they actually landed on the window and didn't melt so it was even easier to look at them.

We learned all about the different types of snow in The Story of Snow:

and Little Man practiced making hexagons on his geoboard.

Next we made some gorgeous paper snowflakes.

We just had to read this beautifully illustrated version of Robert Frost's Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening:

which led us to look at some other wintery poems by Mr. Frost. Z-Man memorized this one, which he also used for copywork:

Dust of Snow
by Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Tonight after dinner, we attempted to make edible snowflakes. I steamed flour tortillas until they were soft and then folded them up and cut the into, well, sort-of snowflake shapes. Then we fried them in oil and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar - mmmmm. They were delicious but sort of brownish. I guess plain powdered sugar would have been a more aesthetically pleasing choice.

And that wraps it up! Next week, we'll be doing all things Iditarod. The race starts on March 5 and if you've never followed it, you just don't know what you're missing. We initially started following it four years ago because we thought it would be a great learning opportunity. Now we are officially hooked. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One more ocean post and then I promise I'm done

I just had to show you Z-Man's finished squid report. I know you all were hoping, wondering... will she post the squid report? When will she post the squid report? Well, the wait is over. Thank you for your patience.

The front, with an arrow pointing to the sperm whale, major predator of the colossal squid.

The inside, showing the colossal squid adding a small boat to his collection, which already includes the Bismarck (and you thought the British sunk it!) with a sperm whale and submersible thrown in for good measure.

If you're not terribly interested in the colossal squid, you'll probably want to stop reading now. If you are interested, here is the text of the above report, in a more readable format:

The Colossal Squid can grow as big as 59 feet. The squid lives in the midnight zone, where it is pitch black and all the bioluminescent fish live. The squid has the largest eyes of any animal, about the size of soccer balls. The squid eats toothfish and other squid. Sperm whales are squid's predators and they catch them by echolocation, the process of sending out sound waves which bounce off objects and back to the whale. We know this because we have found squid beaks and tentacles in their stomachs. The squid squirts ink at sperm whales and then uses jet propulsion. Pacific Sleeper Sharks are also predators of the squid. In 2007, a New Zealand antarctic fishing boat caught a squid eating a toothfish and hauled it aboard. They brought it to the Tepapa Museum in New Zealand. I think that some day they'll find squids attacking ocean liners and passenger planes.

And there you have it, folks. Better cancel those cruises to the Antarctic.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh well. At least it's something to count.

I would love to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count next week (Feb 18-21.) Really, I would. When there are birds at our feeder, we love watching them. We have bird guides and binoculars right on the window sill at all times. Unfortunately, there hasn't been too much to look at lately, let alone count.

They all come back occasionally, all on the same day. And then they're gone again. Now what does that sound like to you? I'll tell you what it sounds like. Like someone else in the neighborhood is feeding our birds! Caviar, no doubt, or whatever it is that they like better than sunflower seeds. Or maybe their feeder isn't six inches from their kitchen window.

Anyway, we were so wishing for little creatures to look at that we let this guy feast for awhile yesterday:

We have named him bat squirrel, for obvious reasons. Either he is an unusual species with a strong, prehensile tail or he was literally hanging by his toenails. Either way, we felt he had worked hard enough to deserve a little snack. It's not like the birds will miss it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Winter Wonderland

I wish my camera could capture just how beautiful it is out there; the snow on every branch makes the woods look like delicate lace. It really is awe-inspiring.

I'm not sure the birds would agree with me. We did chip the ice off for them so the feeder would look a little less like a prison.

Have a fun Superbowl Sunday, everyone!