Thursday, January 31, 2019

January - Honeybees in Winter

Here are a few notes from our week of Wintertime Honeybee fun!

We continued with our Songs, Verses & Movement for classroom routines.

Circle Time


We had so much fun making these little bird feeders! You can do the classic "pine cones in peanut butter" but the oranges project is a nice peanut-free version of a homemade bird feeder. First, we squeezed the oranges. Each child got to squeeze and drink the juice from one large orange. Then we scooped out the pulp, used bamboo skewers as stands for the birds, and tied on yarn and filled them up. Using different colors of yarn for each child helps them figure out whose is whose when the birds come to visit.

If I did this again, I would experiment with different types of citrus. Our oranges had thin peels and sometimes cracked during the squeezing. It would be fun to get a pink grapefruit, a pomelo (these have very thick skin), and a blood orange to try as well, and compare the results.

After they watched Becca hang the feeders up outside our big picture window, the next project was to scoop all the birdseed out of our sensory bin and into the big metal can. This is the can which holds the birdseed outside for refilling the feeders. Our class had a blast scooping and pouring and transferring the seed from one container to another.

At Circle Time we read Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt. We noticed that we hadn't seen any bees at all in our Winter bird watching. We talked about how the bumblebee queen sleeps alone underground through the winter (this is illustrated in the story), but honeybees stay warm in their hives in a big group with their family. We talked about the shape of the cells and looked at our wooden beehive toy, and we talked about how honeybees make honey to be their winter food! At snack people happily tasted honey (and nibbled on the leftover sweet pulp from our oranges, of course).


The children enthusiastically played honeybee today, turning the chairs under my dining room table into the cells of the hive, and building an elaborate silken structure all around the hive to protect it. They played honeybee the entire morning.

I didn't want to interrupt their flow with Circle Time, so when it was time for snack they paused only to do a bee poem ("Bee! I'm Expecting You" by Emily Dickinson, page 19 of Eric Carle's Animals Animals) and then eat. I got honeycomb from the international grocery store and they looked closely at it and had a little taste. I gave them plates and forks and mouthful-sized bites.

After snack we had our Honeybees in Winter Circle, which was a hit. I've never written a Circle before so I was very excited that it went well. For anyone who is interested, here is the link:

We ended the morning with our Flashlight Dance activity. Everyone took a turn making the flashlight's beam dance on the wall, and the remaining children moved and played instruments along with the tempo. When the light moved quickly we were quick; when the light moved slowly we were slow.


Another day of silken hive building and busy bee play!

The children also enjoy the sensation of smoothing and folding the silks when we put them back away in the basket. We also enjoyed another quite lovely sensory experience. I softly read "Velvet Shoes" by Elinor Wylie and then the children took off their socks and I stroked the soles of their bare feet with the cozy lambswool duster. Many children kept their socks off for a long time and enjoyed the sensation over and over. Even the older children came up and took off their socks to enjoy the softness on their bare feet. I adore this Winter poem and this was an absolutely wonderful way to share it.

And, of course, today was also Stone Soup Day! It was sooo delicious with the Parm on top. Here was our list of group contributions this week:

yellow onion
bok choy
Swiss chard
vegetable broth
shredded Parmesan cheese

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

2019 Newbery and Caldecott Winners

As has been the tradition in my class for many years, we watched the ALA awards ceremony live yesterday. We don't tune in until the end (an hour in to the program) because that's when they give the most prestigious awards. Did you know that the Newbery is the oldest children's book award in the country? It's been going since 1922.

I love these awards.

At the Montessori school where I worked previously, I spent my state of Maryland annual textbook money each year working to build up our collection of every Newbery winner and honor book since 1922. At Little Bluestem, you may notice that I label the spines of the books we have which have won these awards. It feels so fancy to have gold and silver stickers, and it's a great feeling to know you're reading a book which has been voted the best of them all.

It's fun, too, to wonder what will win... like this great blog post Newbery / Caldecott 2019: Final Prediction Edition by Elizabeth Bird.

It's fun for me to make a special display each year of the books which have won (and to see how excited the kids are to see them arrive in the mail)!

And if you already own the winning books, that's an amazing feeling too. I will never forget the year Dead End in Norvelt won and our school already had a copy. Someone had donated it to the classroom! As soon as the winner was announced I went to the Upper Elementary classroom to tell Ms. Denise which book had won... and she walked straight to the closet and put it right in my hands. And it was an autographed copy!!!!

Yesterday I purchased the 2019 Newbery winner and honors, the Caldecott winner and honors, and the Geisel winner. I already beefed up my early reader collection significantly this year, with the complete set of phonics-based early readers from ATP (86 books), but I did want the Geisel winner.

So... here's what we got for the classroom. Books should start arriving by the end of the week:

Geisel award - best early reader of 2018

Caldecott medal - best-illustrated children's book of 2018

Newbery medal - best-written children's book of 2018

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Zoology I, Week 3: Termite, Ant, Wasp, Honeybee

Here are some notes from our third week of Zoology I, where we focused on the Social Insects!

Monday, January 21

Tuesday, January 22

Thursday, January 24

  • suggest The Wonder World of Ants by Wilfrid S. Bronson as a chapter book resource; read chapter 21, "The Lion Hunt," pages 187-194 from The Burgess Book of Nature Lore by Thornton W. Burgess
  • look at pictures of antlion larva sand pit trap and adult antlion
  • complete termite art project for MLB (torn construction paper collage), review illustrations in insectlopedia and Animal Architects
  • read The Ant and the Grasshopper by Amy Lowry Poole
  • complete ant art project for MLB (negative space chalk on brown paper); review Leah's MLB illustration, Poole's book, insectlopedia and Animal Architects
  • review the three parts of the insect (head, thorax, abdomen)
  • add The Termite and The Ant to MLB
  • read "Wasp: Environment and Temperament," pages 50-52 of Klocek, look at illustrations, look at and touch paper wasp nest
  • review the life cycle of the insect (egg, larva, pupa, adult)
  • read wasp information from Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead by Rebecca L. Johnson

      "Control Freaks," page 26
      Zombie Maker: The Parasitoid Wasp, Glyptapanteles spp.
      Zombie Victim: Moth Caterpillars, Thyrinteina leucocerae
      North and South America

      "Can We Eat the Babysitter?," page 22
      Zombie Maker: The Jewel Wasp, Ampulex compressa
      Zombie Victim: Cockroaches, Periplaneta americana
      tropical parts of Africa, South Asia, and the Pacific Islands

Friday, January 25


  • finish up termite and ant miscellany: read "The Anteater" (page 10) and "The Ants" (page 20) poems from Douglas Florian's Beast Feast, read Baby Ants Have a Host of Unexpected Superpowers article
  • perform "The Digger Wasp" from Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman, page 23
  • read chapter 14, "Sue Tries Detecting," pages 125-134 from The Burgess Book of Nature Lore by Thornton W. Burgess, recommend additional chapters for further reading on wasps and bees

      chapter 15, "The Fairy Bottles," page 135

      chapter 23, "The Paper Makers," page 205

      chapter 10, "The Little Bee Box," page 89

      chapter 11, "Sammy Loses the Line," page 97

  • review termites and ants, review solitary and social wasps, review solitary and social bees (leafcutter bee, carpenter bee, bumblebee, honeybee), study the word < colony > in SWI
  • honeybee presentation from special guest Mark Fletter, beekeeper from Dayempur Farm


This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!