RIP Bill the Duck

A couple months ago Bill the duck stopped walking. First he would walk and sit, walk and sit. Then he sort of flapped and flew from place to place. Then he dragged his body along flapping his wings. We checked him over and saw nothing wrong with his visible legs. He was losing weight and couldn't float without turning over in the water. I was terrified I would come out to a drowned duck in the water.

We placed him in a box in a shelter on the back deck for a week and a half. He didn't get any better with rest. So I let him out. Jill, the girl duck, was beside herself. She would hang around and quack at the box all day. So I let him out to live out the rest of his life, or until we could figure out what to do with him.

For about a month he would spend his days under the trees and flap back down- we'd carry him on his bad days- to eat and spend the night by the house. He was hanging on, even though we sort of wished he would give up. I am not the strongest farm-animal person...I am unable to put a bird out of it's misery. We had a similar issue with a chicken- Hopper a couple years ago...

She died of natural causes after about 6 months. And this morning when we went to find Bill to move him to safety before mowing the grass, we found him too. The boys took it well, since it was a long time coming. And I think Jill will be okay too. She's had a couple months to get used to not having him as her shadow and she has made good friends with the chickens....


Comets, Asteroids and Meteors

This week we studied comets, asteroids and meteors.

We made comets using our snow cone maker to shave the ice and form the ice core then added the outer dust and a tail.

Once they were frozen solid they took them outside to fly and melt.

And we made chocolate covered marshmallow/cereal balls as asteroids.

They had bits of rock (peanuts) and other debris (sprinkles) too.

We attempted to find micometeorites in our yard using magnets but we didn't find any. We did however find tons of micro-organisms and a few clear worms in the soil samples we brought it. And Lakin spent about an hour with the microscope looking at our prepared slides and making his own out of his hair and cheek cells....

Good thing earlier in the week the boys were up late getting home from Townsend and we decided to let them stay out for a few minutes to try and catch some of the Perseids Meteor shower. Paul and I were out on August 12th- which was supposed to be the peak- and saw about 15 in the 30 minutes we were watching. Rylan and Cale did see one or two before heading in to bed. So even though we didn't get to find any meteorites, at least we got to see some...

Making Dough

I am always on the search for better clay recipes. For our history projects this past week we needed clay a couple times so I tried a few different versions. Here are some of my favorite new and old recipes.

Play Dough

This is the recipe I have used for years. I got it from one of my frequently referenced books during my preschool teaching days.

2 cups water
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
t tsp cream of tartar
2 T oil
food coloring

Mix the flour, cream of tartar and salt in a saucepan. Mix the water, oil and food coloring together then add it to the pot. Turn the heat on to medium and stir. Stir continuously until a ball forms that pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and turn out on to a plate/board/counter. It will be hot, but as soon as you can knead it until it is nice and smooth. This stays soft forever! Store in an air tight container.

Salt Ceramic

2 cups salt
1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup cornstarch

Mix all the ingredients into a saucepan and stir over medium heat until the mixture forms a ball. Turn out and knead until smooth.

This one is grainy, like salt, but it dries rock hard and is very pretty. Sort of sparkly. I've used in the in past for ornaments and we used it last week for our cuneiform tablets.

Air-Dry Modeling Clay:

1 cups cornstarch
1 1/2 cup water
2 cups baking soda

Mix the cornstarch and baking soda together in a saucepan. Slowly add water while stirring. Heat over medium-low heat. Cook and stir until thick and forms a ball. Remove from heat and knead until smooth.

This one is really smooth. We used it for our sumerian seals and out Mohenjo-Daro house last week and I really liked the texture of it. It dries really hard and smooth too.


Chemistry and Lines

Is it Chemical or Physical?

That was the question for our science get together this week. I set up about 5 fairly simple science activities for the kids to work through and determine if a physical or chemical change occurred.

We started simple- adding hot water to solid ice. To produce the physical change of matter.

Then we moved on to adding our "chemical" aka bleach to a tube of colored water and produced a chemical change- proved by the color change.

Then another simple physical change- each pair broke an egg into a jar...and then stirred it. All physical changes- it was still an egg.

On to a simple version of elephant toothpaste. Which was a water bottle with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide in the bottom. Then they added a drop of dishsoap. Then they were each give a cup of 2 T of water and 1/2 a tsp of yeast to mix together...and pour into the bottle.

This one is fun. More exciting than baking soda and vinegar I think. A chemical change as proved by the gas produced (bubbles) and heat.

I wanted to do a bigger version- if I had the higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide....Science Bob has a nice version and this one...was really cool looking....

And our final experiment was making flubber. A very small amount of it. Each kid was given a tube containing about a Tbsp. of premixed water and borax and a cup of about a Tbsp. of glue. Then they mixed the 2 and shook until the reaction took place. The formation of a solid/precipitate proves the chemical change.

We then moved inside for LINES

We talked about types of lines from simple horizontal and diagonal to more complex contour lines. They each sectioned their pages into about 9 squares and drew different types of lines in each section. While they were doing this I showed them various artist's prints to see the usage of lines in each.

Then we moved on to blind contour drawing. They did really good at this. I warned them it might be a frustrating task, but that it was good practice and a way to train your eyes to draw what they see. We started with drawing a bottle and then they began to gather other objects to attempt to draw blindly. Pencils, baskets, their hands and feet....

The final activity was to use contour lines to add depth and detail to their drawings. We started by tracing hands on to the paper and then observing the difference between that and the real thing. Then they began to add all those little lines to their hands- nails, knuckles, creases- to give the hand more detail.


Happy Birthday, Cohen!

The comedian

Who thinks he is hilarious

and isn't afraid to laugh at himself

he loves to learn

and go along with whatever his brothers have in mind

Happy 5th Birthday, Cohen!


Welcome to the Carnival

This past Sunday we had Rylan, Cale and Cohen's birthday party. This is the first time we've had a big, themed party, but it went really well and I think the kids all enjoyed themselves. So here's a run down of the party, starting with the prep work:

The Cake:

The boys' personal cakes

And now for the games:

The Guessing Booth:

We had 5 jars filled with different items. They each filled out how many they thought were in each jar and the one who was the closest won the whole jar.

The Milk Bottle Toss:

They got 3 tries to knock down all the bottles and won a different amount of tickets based on how many they knocked down.

The Balloon Blaster:

This was a popular one....they had 3 tries to pop the balloons by throwing darts at them. They won a ticket for each balloon popped (or one for trying)

Feed the Clown:

Basically a bean bag toss, but I was pretty proud of my clown :) Again, they had 3 bean bags to get through the holes and win tickets.

I had another game- The Fish Bowl- where they tossed ping pong balls into water filled bowls to win prizes and tickets, but I didn't get a picture of it pre-party.

Here's our Concession Stand:
Fruit kabobs, veggie plates, popcorn and cotton candy- which had to be brought out at one special time. We tried to have it out on the table, but it's so humid here it began to melt almost immediately.

And now it's party time!

Keeping cool. We had 3 misting hoses going to keep the area and the kids a little cooler. We used them as opposed to sprinklers to keep the kids from getting soaked. They did anyway....



The watermelon eating contest...

The 3 to eat the most won a watermelon...of course Cale was the winner....which we all predicted. He cleared his pretty quick considering he's missing 4 of his teeth, including his top 2.

Cakes and candles

Trading in tickets for prizes at the prize table

The loot...


Happy birthday, Boys!!

(Here's a link to some of the picture's my dad took...)


The School Room

Here's our school room. Please don't mind the unswept floors and huge horse which is currently being used as a trash bag hanger and a step ladder to reach the top of the book shelf.

Taking a a closer look we have:

The reading cornerThe back of the reading corner; which has our white board, scissors, pencils and our timeline

Our nature table, which is getting a little over crowded. They keep piling things up- large rocks, bird's nests and eggs, dead moths, bark, etc. One day I might go through it....

The bulk of our school manipulatives....microscope and science stuff on top, math on the next 2 shelves, language on the 3rd...then random other materials and toys on the bottom 2.

The art shelf....paper, sketch pads, markers, pastels and other arts and crafts supplies.

The preschool shelf and my ever-shrinking command center. The wire bins are home to each other their current books and work, recorders, supplies-like paperclips, brads, glue, and a tiny spot for me to keep my weekly planner page.

There are more shelves....toys shelves....but not much has changed from last year in our school room other than some minor rearranging and toy rotation.

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