Monday, June 16, 2008

F&G Begins!

Today was my first day of teaching summer camps. Camp runs from 9 am to 3 pm. I have seven campers, a range of boys and girls. We covered seeds (including snacks of poppy seed and sesame seed bagels with almond butter in the AM and popcorn in the PM), soil ( The Mountain that Loved a Bird by Alice McLerran and A Log's Life by Wendy Pfeffer) and compatible and incompatible plants (from Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte) and made our garden plan with index cards. We did shake tests of soil samples from around the campus and I sent each child home with a quart mason jar and instructions to bring in a soil sample from home. We also gathered different types of leaves on our Nature walk and decorated the outside of our journals with leaf prints.

Tomorrow is weather, water and sunshine, shadows and beginning our sundial project and starting seeds in peat pots. We are also talking about root vegetables and I am doing "The Turnip" for storytelling with the figures from Anne Moze and a gigantic turnip which I needle felted.

By the way, Cook's Illustrated magazine has phenomenal cover illustrations of different types of produce. I will be bringing in a sample issue I got (you can see it on Amazon, it is the issue with the blue bowl of persimmons on the front) which has a lovely "poster" of different types of Root Vegetables on the back. The back illustrations are much nicer than the front since the magazine title and so on are not on them, they are full page. Gorgeous. Honestly, I could see getting a subscription just to frame them for the homeschool classroom. To request a sample you can simply go to their website.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Live Ladybugs - Open Immediately

That's what the package said that was in my mailbox. I didn't purchase the Ladybug Land official habitat; I am going to be doing a makeshift habitat for them so thought I would write down my notes in case they were helpful to others. Farming & Gardening begins on Monday.

According to some helpful advice I got from my Yahoo Group, here is how to do it (I had asked if the Butterfly Pavilion would work):

"The ladybug house is hard plastic, not mesh and has a little sponge thing to add water to with a dropper, the larvae attach themselves to the hard plastic walls when they go into the pupae stage, I'm not sure what would happen w/ the mesh walls? So, while I haven't used (or looked closely) at the butterfly pavilion, they seem SOO different, I don't think it would work. You MIGHT be able to use a mason jar though? With a piece of wet tissue in the bottom for water? and ventilation holes in the lid (or fabric over the top instead of the seal? To me that would be more similar to the ladybug house than the butterfly pavilion."

"You'd need to find a way to provide that without the risk of them drowning--the habitat is specially designed for that. Also, the butterfly pavilion is pretty big for a dozen ladybugs, I don't know how well you would be able to watch them. We had 500 ladybugs in it! Personally, since the habitat is only about $7.00 more, I probably would buy it if I wanted to go with the larva."

"I think the pavilion would be fine if you offered plant material in it for the larva to grow on. Also for water I kept a cotton ball saturated with water in my cricket habitat."

"Be aware that they can drown in a dish of water, the habitat has a little felt (or similar) pad that you add a couple drops of water to every day, so in the mason jar you'll want to put something (as I think about it, a piece of felt would probably work best, the one in the habitat is probably about the size of a penny (maybe only a dime, I don't have it in front of me, it's packed somewhere from our recent move LOL) so doesn't have to be big) that you can put drops of water onto, not a dish of water."

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions! I put them all in one place so I can mull them over. Since now I have to OPEN IMMEDIATELY! :-)

I think I will go with a clear glass jar with a cotton ball soaked in water and see how it goes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


You know how you're always wishing your children had fewer possessions so they would value them more, enjoy them, and engage in more imaginative play? Well, let me tell you that moving to a three room house is the way to go. :-) Leah has been having a ball using the broom to sweep the deck and I just found her offering horsie rides to Rebecca. Yes, we have a hobby horse but it is packed away along with nearly 80% of what we own. Which I am now thinking is a good thing and will lead to a wonderful summer of play for my girls. The road is hard but I think the rewards will be many.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Have Tooth, Will Travel

We have been summer-vacationing it at a little beach cabin with plenty of sand and sun to go around. Yesterday Natalie pulled out one of her baby teeth and although I was willing to write a note to the TF to let her know we were staying in a different house, the girls and I ended up back at home simply to be in the air conditioning. The humidity and heat were so bad that Leah began to have some trouble breathing. I guess the dust mites were multiplying. We are now back home for several weeks to pack and then we will move to our new house July 1st. F is for Family was really helpful to my girls as we talked about how no matter what changes happen in our lives and how things seem to be really different, we all love each other and always will. (By the way, the only thing the Tooth Fairy had on hand was Granny's House, a cooperative board game. It was a big hit.)

Since it's vacation we are doing a kind of thing called Kid Wish List where the children get to request things they would like to do and we try to work them into our schedule if at all possible. Leah really wants to try Putt-Putt, of all things! :-) Natalie is firmly sticking to beach walks and visiting the pool. Rebecca I think is going through a growth spurt because she seems to be quite out of sorts and is constantly tripping over her own feet or bawling about something. Today we had to go back and search the beach for her shoes and she got herself so worked up about losing them that even when we had found them she couldn't stop crying. I know that all the changes in our lives are stressful. We also just made it through a series of tornadoes in Southern Maryland and the girls were very worried about that. We kept having to go down into the basement so they were pretty aware of what was going on. All in all I think that Kid Wish List puts some power back in their hands and gives us all a chance to relax and have a little fun!

Summer camps begin next week so I have completed planning for Farming & Gardening and added it to the members-only section of the website. Next I have to hash out the fine print on Housebuilding. I need to order ladybug larvae and 20 cubic feet of sharp gravel and our lumber for the Glass House project. I am excited that one benefit of our moving to a new house (in a community that doesn't allow outbuildings) is giving our old wooden playhouse to the Tidewater School to use as their henhouse! See useful -- and funny! -- photos of how successful this can be: Guinea Fowl Housing Ideas. If you want to build one from scratch here are some nice plans.