Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Learning Opportunities - Frogs


During our week in Oregon, looking in on family, we were happy to discover spring in full bloom.  Yards were green, and filled with flowers, weeds, ladybugs, and frogs - lots and lots of tiny frogs.

Always wash your hands after touching reptiles or amphibians.

They hopped about in the rain soaked grass by day, and serenaded us with a loud chorus of ribbiting from the ditches in the evenings.  Checking the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website, once we were home, we discovered the evening singing we heard was actually the males' spring mating call. 

The singing is also the reason these frogs are often called Chorus Frogs, though their more official name is Pacific Treefrogs.


The Pacific Treefrog, which strangely enough - does not live in trees, is one of 12 species of frogs native to Oregon (again, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife). 

By doing a quick search for Treefrogs by name, we discovered NatureMapping's Washington Animal Fact Page, where we learned Treefrogs are easy to identify due to:
  •  their small size (adults can be up to two inches long), 
  • the stripe over their eyes, 
  • and their rounded toe-pads. 


They come in colors from lime green to a bronze brown, and can apparently change between green and brown in minutes, based on the air temperature and humidity around them.


Frogs can be spotted year round, but because they go into a hibernation-like torpor when the weather is too hot or cold, spring is an excellent time to spot them in action, as we did in the yards and ditches of Oregon.

What's in your yard this spring? 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sunshine on a Stick


With spring "officially" approaching on the calendar, but rain and snow clouds still filling the sky with gloom, the younger girls have been growing restless.  We have a road trip ahead to Grandma's house, and sunnier west coast weather (we hope), but in the meantime, I found one of my favorite old public service announcements from the '70s to share with them.





There's nothing like a silly cartoon...


...and a batch of homemade popsicles...


...to brighten attitudes...


...lift spirits...


...and add a touch of sunshine...


...to a rainy afternoon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Learning Opportunities - Chicks at the Farm Supply Store



When it comes to chicks, can you tell the difference between a Cornish Roaster...



...and a White turkey?



Or, a Partridge Rock Pullet...



...and a Black Star Pullet?



Or, a Speckled Sussex...



...and a Sicilian Buttercup?




Or, an Andalusian Pullet...



...and a Top Hat?



Okay, those last two are pretty easy to tell apart.  But, some of the others are pretty tricky.  In fact, since it was my oldest daughter who took the pictures of the chicks and the signs on their boxes, and I had to kind of guess my way through by their order on the camera, I'm not sure I'd totally trust that I have them labeled right in the shots above.

However, once I print the pictures out for the children to pair with the poultry information sheet from the website of our local farm supply store, where we viewed the chicks today, it ought to make for a pretty good lesson.

And in the meantime, we got to enjoy all the cuteness the tiny chicks had to offer in a safe, clean (hand sanitizer was provided), and informative environment.

video

So, even if you've never set foot in a farm supply, or feed store before, you might consider checking one out this spring.  You never know what you might find.

I understand at our local store - ducklings come next!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Links, Crafts and Activity Suggestions


Are you looking for a few last links, crafts or activities to round out your St. Patrick's Day studies?  Or, maybe you just realized it was St. Patrick's Day as you opened your blog reader this morning, and your scrambling to come up with some quick ideas.  Either way, I've got a few suggestions.


The feature film (meaning it's free for today, with no subscription or log-in needed) on Brainpop.com is all about St. Patrick's Day.  It covers both the historical aspects, as well as the modern celebration, both Christian and secular.  There film is framed by a quick quiz, worksheet, and additional activity suggestion sheet.

Phil Vischer has a "Should Christians Celebrate St. Patrick's Day?" blog post on the What's in the Bible site, that also gives some good information on the holiday.  And speaking of Phil Vischer...



...I've totally forgotten which of the VeggieTales episodes the YouTube clip above is from, but it wouldn't seem like St. Patrick's Day without it.

As for activities, here are a few that we found fun in the past:
 
 A St. Patrick's Hide and Seek Jar, made with an empty peanut butter jar, food coloring dyed popcorn kernels, and green objects found around the house.


Making alum crystal "leprechaun jewels"


 Baking Irish soda bread.


Rainbow fruit skewers.


Super simple rainbow slushies.


A Trinity shamrock craft...


...to go with green milk...


...and shamrock sugar cookies (of course).

Hope you find a little "luck o'the Irish" in your day today!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sidewalk Chalk Flowers from the Field Guide - Getting Ready for Spring


This is that time of year when it's getting warmer, and starting to feel like spring, but still looking like...


...well, not winter exactly, but not spring either.  While we're enjoying the sunshine, and the arrival of a few spring birds - (can you spot the killdeer in the empty lot behind our house?)...


...we're ready for some color.  It's early though, and we have a while to wait.  Not to mention, that between the deer, the ground squirrels, and the wild rabbits roaming the neighborhood, there really won't be much point in trying to plant flowers in the yard.  That doesn't mean we can't draw a few.


Since the girls wanted to be outside in the fresh air anyway, I pulled out a new box of chalk, and our Montana Field Guide...


...and had them sketch out and label a few of the flowers we hope to see later in the summer...


Then, when they tired of that, I set them loose to cover the rest of our poor, dilapidated patio with free-form flowers.


It's not much of an improvement to the patio, but it did add some color to the backyard...


...and gave the girls an excuse to be outside, and a chance to sure up their field guide knowledge.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Robin Egg Carton Candy Box


C (age 8) wanted a "new" craft to celebrate spotting of our first robins of spring.  Since I already had empty egg carton cut apart for making simple little nests (I haven't decided yet if they're going to be part of a spring centerpiece on the table, or if I'll set them around the house in odd little spots, to see how long it takes the children to notice them - but they're making terribly happy in a springy kind of way)...


...I decided the simplest thing to do would be to use some of the left-overs, and modify Paper, Plate, and Plane's Easter egg carton chicks into robins. 


I wasn't sure exactly how it was going to come together, so I pre-cut construction paper beaks, and wings in a couple of different sizes for C to choose from.  She colored the extra egg carton cups, one for the bottom of her robin, colored brown, except for an orange circle on the front...


...and the other one, for the head, colored completely brown.  She taped them together, with one piece of clear tape, on the side opposite the orange circle...


...glued the beak (two yellow triangles with the flat sides folded out)...


...and some googly eyes to the head...


...and wings to the top edge of the bottom, as shown...


...then filled it up with candy for a finishing touch...


...to which the teens remarked, "Ew!  Your putting eggs inside the robin?  That's a little too homesch-eeew-l."  Teens are a lot of of fun, but enjoy early, and mid childhood while it lasts.


Trust me, it's great to have an eight year old.