Friday, May 27, 2011

School Project #4: Calendar Collages

We did this project today with recycled materials. I had two calendars that I never used (you know, the free ones that you get in the mail). I also had these huge manila envelopes that a friend gave me. The result: Calendar Collages.

All you need is scissors, a glue stick, an old calendar or magazine and a large sheet of paper. (We used the envelopes because they were free!)

The finished project! The girls actually spent about an hour on this because they talked to each other about the animals and asked me questions, such as, "Do mountain lions eat cheetahs?" or "What animal eats a turtle?"

The girls said they were going to use the envelopes to put cards and drawing inside. But if you just used paper, you could tape the finished product to a wall or hang them on the fridge.

School Project #3: Bead Caterpillars

For the month of May, we studied caterpillars. It all started when Amber brought home a black, fuzzy caterpillar and he became out class pet/project. We researched and found out what kind of caterpillar we had (see pics at the bottom). Then we watched time-lapsed videos of caterpillars forming cocoons or chrysalis and becoming moths or butterflies. To end our series, we made Bead Caterpillars. It was so easy...

Step 1: Gather pipe cleaners and beads with large holes (plastic &/or wooden). Have your kids thread 5 or so beads onto a pipe cleaner. Leave 2 to 3 inches of pipe cleaner at the top for the antennae.

Step 2: To make the antennae, fold the pipe cleaner at the top into a heart shape and tuck the end of the heart into the top bead. For the large caterpillar, weave the remaining pipe cleaner around each bead and tuck the end around the first bead. For the small caterpillar, cut off most of the remaining pipe cleaner and tuck the end into the 4th bead.

The girls have had so much fun playing with these. They carry them in their purses and take them everywhere.

Here's "Spikey," the caterpillar that Amber found. He is a "Giant Leopard Moth" caterpillar and he will be black and white when he emerges from his cocoon. We were able to watch him as he ate through leaves. It was so cool! (Yes, those are his little poops.)

"Spikey" grew out of his little container into a nicer, bigger home. He has stopped eating, and from our research, that means he is an adult now and is getting ready to make a cocoon. We are hoping that we will get to see him become a moth.

School Project #2: Bird Nests

For the month of April, we studied birds and bird nests. We checked out a cool book from the library that showed different birds and how each one makes a nest. It was also a book Amber used for reading. Then we watched a nature video that showed birds making nests. I also found an empty nest on my walk one morning, and we brought it into the class room to study how it was made. To conclude our series on birds, we made nests of our own. Here's how we did it:

Step 1: Go on a nature walk (we like nature walks) and gather long blades of grass, twigs, sticks, leaves.
Step 2: Tape the ends of 5 or so long twigs to a 8x10 sheet of paper and weave other sticks through the twigs. 

You can weave branches with leaves attached.

Step 3: When the weaving is finished, carefully cut the ends of the woven "nest" off of the paper.

Step 4: Using school or tacky glue, attach the "nest" to a big leaf. You also can add more leaves to fill in the gaps.  

Step 5: Let dry and display them in the classroom.

We were blessed to have a blue jay build a nest outside, right by my office window. We had a "bird's eye" view of the mama and papa taking turns sitting on the nest and then feeding the baby birds when they hatched. We even saw a baby fly the coop!

School Project #1: Pressed Flower Bookmarks

It's a little late in the school year to be posting ideas for homeschool moms, but you can always use these ideas for this summer or next fall. And you don't have to homeschool to do these fun things with your kiddos. So, here's the first of many projects I am finally posting on my blog. We made these Pressed Flower Bookmarks in early April, when the flowers were in full bloom. It was fun to show Amber & Autumn how to press and preserve flowers, similar to how they did it in the "olden days."

Step 1: Go on a nature walk and find flowers (pick flowers from your own garden or ask a neighbor if you can pick a few of theirs).

Step 2: place flowers between two sheets of wax paper.

Step 3: Put wax paper between a book and place several heavy books on top (finally I have a good use for these hundred-year-old Bible concordances from my grandpa).

Step 4: Wait a day or two and remove the flowers from the books.

Step 5: Arrange flowers between laminater sheets (or use contact paper).

Step 6: Laminate the flowers (or use contact paper). I got this "Purple Cows" laminater with 100 laminating sheets at Costco for $20.

Step 7: The finished project. These make great family gifts. We gave one to our neighbor as a thank you for letting us pick his flowers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Perfect Place

I'm recording this so that when Amber is a teen-ager I can remind her of what she said...

Today we went to Rainbow Bridge (a health food store in Ojai), and then we walked across the street to go to the bank. As we walked back to our car, Amber said, "I love this town. There's just something about it. It's small. It's cute. It's tiny. It's perfect."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baby Rattler

Disclaimer: Michaela, you may not want to read this.

Two weeks ago I helped my neighbor kill a huge rattlesnake near our driveway. (read about it here) About 30 minutes ago, a family on their twilight walk found a baby rattlesnake in the street near our house and asked to borrow a shovel. The man tried to chop its head off, but missed and hit the tail. That made the baby rattler mad! I said, "I'll go get my car and run it over like I did before." I went to get my car, but then we saw a lady in a big SUV, flagged her down and asked her to run it over. "Pop" went the snake and the man chopped his head off to seal the deal. Two snakes in two weeks! Yikes! Summer is a-comin' and we better keep our eyes wide open and our shovels and car keys nearby!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kid's Day?

The girls just couldn't wait until tomorrow to give me their Mother's Day gifts, and so--of course--I obliged.

Then we talked about tomorrow, and I hinted that they could bring me breakfast in bed.

"I want my breakfast in bed, too," Autumn said.
I explained to her that tomorrow is a day for moms, not kiddos.

Then she asked, "When is Kid's Day?"

Eric answered, "Every day," and we all laughed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Snake in the gutter

My neighbor, Eddie, and I killed a rattlesnake just now. It was an awesome display of neighborhood teamwork.

I had walked outside to put some recyclables in the bin, and Eddie told me that there was a rattlesnake in the gutter near their driveway. His roommates weren't home and Eric wasn't home, so it was up to us to kill that bad beast. It was a really big rattler, too, and it was mad. I got our shovel, handed it to Eddie and he took a jab at the snake. He got 'em, but not at the head, so he was still very much alive. I said, "Why don't I run him over in my car!"

I got in my car, and Eddie poked the snake until he slithered into the street. Then Eddie gave me directions: "A little to the left," "More to the left." Okay, go for it!" I ran that sucker over and backed up and ran him over again and again until it was quite dead. When Eddie picked it up with the shovel, a rat was protruding from him belly. At this point, my girls had wandered outside, and they weren't at all disturbed as they watched Eddie chop the head off.

I'm not normally a brave one when it comes to dangerous creatures, but that snake had to go, and my adrenaline must have kicked in enough to make me brave. After Eddie disposed of the rattlesnake, we gave each other a high-five and I thanked God that the snake didn't have a chance to wander over to our yard where the girls were just playing.

It's never a dull moment around here!