Posts Tagged ‘homeschool’


It’s been an emotionally harrowing couple of days around here. The kids are confused, angry, scared, and sad, and I don’t have any good answers for them. I’ve done my best to comfort and support them, and I feel positively heroic for managing to contain my own feelings about what’s happened while helping them deal with theirs. For the time being I think they’ll have to go to school. I don’t see any way around it. So I’ve tried to help them think of ways to cope with the sudden change in plans. Trouble is, they’re not exactly buying it. I come up with a list of things that might be fun or exciting, and they come back with a list of all the things they’ll be missing.  Tee can’t even talk about it without crying. I feel awful, being all positive and hopeful about sending them to a place they don’t want go, that I don’t want to send them to, but they have to go, so I have to help them with it. It’s like being on a dreadful, nightmarish hamster wheel.

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00002 Overcoming my ambivalent feelings about zoos, I took the kids to one today so that they could learn about frogs and toads. A particularly timely topic given our tadpole project. Our zoo doesn’t have much of a reptile house, but we were shown an interesting powerpoint presentation, saw reptile skeletons, and afterwards, took a tour to see some of the other animals.

I’ve taken the kids there a few times in the distant past, and remember lots of dragging feet and complaints of boredom, but this time I should have packed a lunch and made a day of it. The animals were all out and about, highly visible and very active. There were lots of baby animals, and we witnessed a few dramatic fights.

When we went past the fox enclosure, I saw the well-worn ring that the animal had made around the inside perimeter of it’s fence, and felt sad. I know that captive animals generally have twice the life expectancy of wild ones, and that zoo breeding programs have made a difference for some endangered animals, but I still feel uncomfortable about the idea of wild animals being in cages.

It did make for another interesting discussion in our ongoing “Advantages/Disadvantages Game” though. Would you rather be well-fed and safe but give up your freedom, or have to hunt for food and worry about predators but be out in the wild?

Speaking of wild animals, I took a picture of J’s hands when she got out of the van at the zoo. Isn’t someone in charge of cutting that kid’s fingernails? And look at the dirt!


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Owl Pellet


Dissecting this owl pellet was the highlight of the morning. At least for Jay. Tee was more interested in the book he was reading.


I’m pretty sure that the skeleton was of a mouse, not a rat, based on the size of it, but it still had very impressive incisors.

Jay squealed with excitement at every new bone she found, and announced that she’s decided that she’d rather be a naturalist when she grows up than a plasticine sculptress. She spent the rest of the morning making observations in our backyard and jotting them down in her naturalist’s journal. Things like I saw a squirrel. I saw a bird.

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Look! Isn’t that a beautiful little bird? She/he’s eating right out of my hand! It’s my Mother Earth dream! I’m so close to nature that all of the little animals come right up to my skirts to eat the fresh bread crumbs I’ve collected in my apron for them.


Here’s another one! I even know it’s name. It’s a yellow warbler.


This is a particularly large variety of sparrow.

They’re actually in the hands of a naturalist, who was in the process of banding them. We got a chance to watch, and we saw oodles of different song birds. They were banded, had their wings measured, were identified, had the amount of fat on their breasts recorded, and put into little envelopes to be weighed before they were released. I was surprised at how docile they were during their ordeal, and also, how completely unscathed they seemed when they flew away.


It was difficult to get a good shot of the mist net, the net that the birds are captured in, because it was virtually impossible to see.


No day at the wetland is complete without some water organism identification.



The kids got to play at being scientists, and they were excited with the sheer number of little squigglies that live in the water. When we were on the way home, Tee looked at a sparkling pond at the side of the road, and said that while it looked inviting, he wasn’t sure he would want to swim in it now that he knows how many nymphs, leeches and larvae are in there.


That’s a damselfly nymph. It looked like it was big enough to fly right out of the water.

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Kids sure like a fire. The big boys were home, and they were eager to help when the little boys wanted a fire to boil up the ink they’d made.


I’ve donated one of our indoor paintbrushes to the ink project. Seems like a small contribution to such a worthwhile endeavour.


This is their work bench.


In addition to the ink they made gunpowder and bullets. I guess the gunpowder idea came from Tee’s research on the Gunpowder Plot, but I’m not sure how they plan on using it or the bullets. Maybe the fun was in the making. They sure have a neat and tidy cache.

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These were fun to make. Sugar cookies rolled in toasted coconut, then baked. I think they would have turned out more “nest-like” if we’d made dough balls and just made thumbprints in them before they were baked, instead of trying to shape them into nests, because they just flattened out in the oven. J had a lot of fun sorting out the jellybeans so that she could find speckled ones that looked like eggs.


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We learned that it’s way cheaper to buy peanut butter (even organic, nothing-but-peanuts-peanut butter) than it is to make it. That was a mini-lesson in itself. Why the unit price of a truckload of peanuts is cheaper than the unit price of a bagful of peanuts.

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