The Uses of a Tree

Rylan's recycled/scrap paper tree,

on the leaves are...

all the uses of a tree- from paper to food to clean air

Cohen's recycled tree

And an art lesson on how to draw a tree

Rylan's tree



We've been reading the book Poppy by Avi for the past few weeks and finally finished it yesterday. Since this is our literature week we have been describing characters and mapping plots. Today we made a game. It took a lot of recall on their part to remember the different places in the book, the mice's names, when and where certain negative and positive things happened, etc.

First up, the players. 4 mice: Poppy, Basil, Sweet Cicely and Lungwort

Next they drew the different places- Bannock Hill, Gray House, New House, Dimwood Forest, Glitter Creek, Mr. Ocax's tree and Ereth's log and added them to the board using the map in the book for placement.

Then they laid down the path- with a few different Bannock Hill, down Tar Road....

Start is Gray House

Finish is New House

With a few good and bad spaces along the way...chased by a fox, attacked by Mr. Ocax, Saved by Ereth, washed down Glitter Creek...

And here's the die....If you roll Mr. Ocax you lose your turn.

Time to Play!


On Acid Rain

Today's topic: Acid rain

After reading and discussing what acid rain actually is and what it does we started our experiments

Collect rain water and tap water samples in tubes

Place ph testing chemicals into water and read results

We tested twice, using separate chemicals (one for a fishtanks and one for swimming pools).

Conclusions: In both cases our tap water was right on track at neutral and the rain water was basic. We are going to try again using fresh rain water, since the rain water we used was a couple days old and Mother Nature didn't cooperate and rain when my lesson plans wanted it to.

We also started our second experiment which will last a few days. Effects of acid rain on plants.

We have 3 water types: tap, little acid and a lot of acid. I used vinegar for the acid. Then we planted a couple bean seeds in each cup and watered with the appropriate water. Then they hypothesized about which plants will sprout and why.

If I had planned ahead more, I would have pre-sprouted the seeds and had them water the actual plants to see how the acid effects a growing thing.


Our Clean Water Experiment

How clean is your water?

Gather your water samples...we used rain water, water from the hose, tap water and our filtered refrigerator water.

Take small sample of each water and place it on a slide with cover slip. Observe.

Using coffee filters, pour each sample through to see what visible 'pollution' was in the water.

Then go get the really dirty water sitting in the old chicken waterer in the yard and see what it holds...

1. Our filtered refrigerator water had more debris in it than tap water
2. None of the samples were completely clean
3. Mosquito larvae look really cool under a microscope
4. So are all the microscopic organisms that live in algae filled water


Global Issues + Writing

I rethought our Language Arts program a few weeks ago, and in attempt to fit what I want in I decided to rotate weeks. So during our 4 week blocks we will do one week of grammar, one week of writing, one week of literature and one week of phonics. This week was writing week. The week in which I force them outside of their comfort zone and require full sentences and more than just one of them. We had plenty to write about since we are also studying global issue this week...

We wrote letters asking companies to use more earth-friendly products....
We drew landfills and wrote about the pictures....

We created posters showing the hole in the ozone

We imagined what it would be like if the Earth got to hot....

Next week is Lit week- meaning we will focus mostly on comprehension, plot, setting, characters etc...But we still have a few more weeks on the environment, and since we won't be spending so much time writing...or throwing fits about writing....we should have a little bit more time for projects and experiments.


Why I Shouldn't Go to Used Bookstores

but is it really possible to pass up big, hardback books for $0.75 each?


The 'It's A Boy's Life' Boys

It's Student Photo Week at the Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop

So for anyone new visiting- here are the It's A Boy's Life Boys

Rylan, 8 yrs, 3rd grade

He is my perfectionist, my over achiever, my responsible and sensitive one. He fits the role of oldest well, and takes great care of his younger brothers.

Cale, 6 yrs, 1st grade

My free spirit. My artistic, whimsical, emotional one. He loves babies and animals, so if we ever get the farm we want, he'll be in heaven.

Cohen, 4 yrs, Pre K

My sweet, loveable, usually helpful (he's 4 and majorly testing his limits right now) and funny one. Always making jokes, dancing around and trying to make you laugh.

Lakin, 2 yrs, Preschool

My huggable, sweet toddler with a big temper

For the next 4 weeks....

We will be studying various Global Issues

Starting today with recycling


Cincinnati, OH

Okay, so our hotel was actually in KY, but we went to Cincinnati everyday. We left early Wednesday morning and made it up north at about noon. First stop was the Loveland Castle....

They enjoyed seeing a "real" castle...seeing the armor and the gardens were beautiful.

After the castle it was late enough to check into our hotel. I'll say one thing- it is really hard to find a hotel for a family of 6. Seems everything is 4 person max. But I found one about 10 miles outside of the city and it was great- 2 rooms, free breakfast ( plus enough "breakfast to feed us lunch as well), free dinner on weeknights and a pool. And we only got complained on once. You try keeping 4 boys quiet and not-jumpy in a hotel room on the top floor. It can't be done.

Thursday was the Museum Center at Union Terminal. This was a great place. They probably could have gone back and stayed just as long. We got there at 9:30 and didn't leave until close to 5:00. There are 3 museum- children's, science and natural history and Cincinnati history and an Omnimax theater. All housed in the old Union Terminal.

We spent most of the morning in the Children's museum- blocks, water, pulleys, imagination galore... after lunch we hit the Cincinnati History museum as a time-filler before our movie. But, wow, not what I was expecting. We spent over 30 min alone in the first room- a scaled model of the city throughout history. Complete with cable cars and trains running through out.

Then we saw Dinosaurs Alive! at the theater. They've never been to a theater like this glasses, but it is a 5-story screen and you really feel like you were moving. Then we did a scavenger hunt through the Natural History Museum...winning points to trade in at the Trading Post- so we came home with some horn coral, a few deer bones, some polished stones and shells.

Friday was the Cincinnati Zoo. Which is very highly ranked as far as zoos go. It is huge, and I am sure we missed a lot, but there was only so much walking littler boys can do before they fall apart completely. We were there most of the day too- from about 10 am to after 4:00.

Carousel, petting zoo, train, 4-D movie theater, sea lions, orangutans, manatees, white lions, a whole peacock family, a baby cheetah...

One Rylan and I liked the best was the Okapi...sort of like a cross between a zebra and a giraffe in picture of it didn't turn out- but here is Rylan on the carousel's version...

One of Cale's favorite's- Lorikeet Landing. They could feed the birds by just had to watch that you didn't stand under them.

This morning after checking out of our hotel we headed over to Eden park to play and watch the ducks before going to the Art museum....we did another scavenger hunt through the galleries and then went to the children's Art World- were they have all sorts of interactive creations, and then made a plexiglass collage.

It was a wonderful vacation and great to get away....and I learned a lot too....

1. When I was young and visited this same city, I left thinking I would love to live there one day. I came home today missing corn fields, cows and hay bales around the mall parking lot.

2. I hate city traffic. Paul laughed at me the entire drive through the city....I can't stand that many cars swerving in and out and big tractor trailers surrounding me. Talk about panic.

3. This week was our week off....but I am totally counting it....I mean if dinosaur and penguin documentaries, building huge arches, talking to zoo keepers about the shapes of alligator/crocodile skulls and manatee bones, discussing the difference between mammoth and mastodon teeth, and searching through an entire museum to find out which bird survived the Ice Age only to become nearly extinct due to humans, isn't learning I don't know what is.


It's Birthday Time: Cohen

Happy birthday to my little 4 year old!

At birth



And four