Monday, September 26, 2011

Our Ansel Adams Photo Safari

We're continuing our artist study with Ansel Adams this semester. Our study is very simple - we look at some of the artist's work, discuss it, and read a biography or two. Today we took advantage of the lovely September weather and went out in search of high-contrast nature images to capture in the style of Ansel Adams.

And then we waded in the river to cool off.

I'll leave you with a poem that seemed just perfect for today:


by: Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

      HE golden-rod is yellow;
      The corn is turning brown;
      The trees in apple orchards
      With fruit are bending down.

      The gentian's bluest fringes
      Are curling in the sun;
      In dusty pods the milkweed
      Its hidden silk has spun.

      The sedges flaunt their harvest,
      In every meadow nook;
      And asters by the brook-side
      Make asters in the brook.

      From dewy lanes at morning
      The grapes' sweet odors rise;
      At noon the roads all flutter
      With yellow butterflies.

      By all these lovely tokens
      September days are here,
      With summer's best of weather,
      And autumn's best of cheer.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's working, what isn't

We've just finished our second week of the new school year and, overall, I'd say it was a great success. As is the case in each new year, however, there are a few adjustments that need to be made.

What's working
Giving Z-Man more control over his day. I've been giving him a daily checklist. He likes to know exactly what's coming. I may even start giving him a list for the whole week.

Seat work for Little Man, but only in small doses with me right by his side.

Short lessons, Charlotte Mason style. It already feels like a more relaxed atmosphere.

Nature Study using the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Last week, we studied milkweed, this week goldenrod. Good fun and I actually learned a lot!

What's not working
Including Little Man in our history reading. He loses interest very quickly when there are no pictures. Since the TruthQuest guide includes book recommendations for all grade levels for each topic that is covered, I'll start ordering more picture books from the library. We'll all read those together and then Little Man can have play time while Z-Man and I read the more advanced books.

Sleeping in - I haven't been getting up before the kids and that is NOT a good way to start the day. The remedy for this is obvious, but painful.

Five in a Row - we just haven't been getting to all of our FIAR studies the way I'd like to. This one just requires a little more effort on my part. The FIAR books are like old friends to Z-Man and I want to make sure that Little Man has all those good memories too.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the way the year is going so far. And now that we're back in our school routine with a little more structure in our days, I hope to blog a little more faithfully. I certainly appreciate you all sticking with me over the summer though! Thanks so much!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Exploring the uncharted wilderness

We're into our second week of the school year here and knee-deep in Lewis and Clark stories, thanks to TruthQuest History.

Today was a lovely day so we filled our packs with supplies, grabbed our (cap) guns and headed out to explore the wild, uncharted territory of the Louisiana Purchase.

The guns remained loaded at all times in case we had any run-ins with grizzly bears like Lewis and Clark did.

Thankfully, this guy was about the most menacing thing we saw.

We gathered specimens for President Jefferson - mostly pressed flowers, although Z-Man did get within arms reach of this turtle before it dove. I couldn't take a picture because I was preparing to pull him out of the water and mentally calculating how far he'd have to walk in wet clothes before we got to the car. Thankfully, the kid has pretty good balance and managed to stay dry. Speaking of specimens, did you know Lewis and Clark actually sent a live prairie dog to the president?

The funniest thing that happened was our trading with the Indians. We had brought some beaded bracelets to trade and, when we saw a young couple on a hike, Z-Man chased them down and asked if they'd like to trade their Yankees hat for our trinkets. I explained what we were doing and asked if they'd mind playing the part of the friendly Indians. They didn't skip a beat and happily traded the hat! No kidding! They didn't even want it back. Z-Man was delighted with his successful trade. And you can never have too many Yankees hats.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We saw the monarchs!

This evening was just beautiful and we decided to spend it at a local beach.

As we watched the geese and the sunset and threw the football, we started noticing monarch butterflies.

They were all flying in the same path, in the same direction, at roughly the same height.

We realized that we had wandered into their migration path! We were so excited! The boys cheered them on and yelled, "have fun in Mexico!"

By the time the sun set, we had counted 97 monarchs.

This is number 61. He needed to take a little rest. Or maybe he just likes the camera.

Two years ago, when we did our "around the world" study, we discovered the monarch's over-wintering grounds while studying Mexico. You can read about that here. Monarchs born over the summer live 6-8 weeks, but the last generation to be born in a season lives 6-8 MONTHS so that they can fly thousands of miles, sometimes crossing the Great Lakes (think no place to land) to go dormant in one small patch of woods in the mountains of Mexico. They are so thick there that they sometimes break tree limbs! Can you imagine how many butterflies that would take? They wake up in the spring, mate and start the trip back, laying eggs all the way. Scientists have tagged butterflies, taken them hundreds of miles off course and they still find their way! God's creation is just astounding and I'm so thankful that He allowed us to see this tonight.