Field Trip Friday: Asheville Botanical Gardens

This week Rylan asked to go to either the NC Arboretum or the Asheville Botanical Gardens so that he could take some pictures of flowers to enter in the fair. We decided to try the Botanical Gardens since we've never been. It was very nice, and not at all what I was expecting. I was thinking it would be similar to the University of Tennessee's Trial Gardens, but it was much more naturalized.

  The kids were automatically drawn to the water and rocks. And flip flops are not the shoes to wear while chasing an excited toddler over slippery rocks! We spent a lot of time skipping rocks and stomping in puddles and streams.

Rylan took pictures with my camera so he could get a better shot for his fair entries. He also hogged the camera taking pictures of every tree he hasn't seen before. And their leaves. And their sign. He was pretty excited about some of them since they were on his "want to see" list. He also has an "already seen list" which currently lists about 115 tree species.

We saw a few caterpillars to identify later. And we found a tree with an odd fruit-like seed pod. Rylan collected some seeds from the Cucumber tree and Spice Bush to try and plant at home. We also came home with a new Peterson's Field Guide- A Field Guide to Eastern Trees. And a new bird book too.  Rylan is excited to go back in the spring, since he saw signs for many of the wild flowers he's been wanting to see.

So that was our field trip of the week. Now it's your turn! Did you take a fun outing this week? Did you let your kids explore nature? A museum? Zoo? A neighborhood walk?  Link up below and share your experience! If you don't have a blog, just leave a comment with your favorite field trip.

Please link back to It's a Boy's Life and Field Trip Friday to spread the word!

linked to Fantastic Foto Field Trips,


Crafting Cale and the Duct Tape Peacock

Cale entered to make a sculpture in the fair this year. He poured over Pinterest, and finally settled on this peacock. The inspiration piece (linked above) looked like it was made out of foil, but after he modeled the body out of plastic bags and tin foil he decided he would use duct tape to cover the outside instead. He used pencils and more foil and bags to add the feet. And lots and lots of blue duct tape.

The tail is made from a piece of heavy cardboard. Covered in purple and peace sign duct tape. He used gorilla tape and hot glue to attach it to the body.  Because of the leg angle the peacock needed a little lift, so he used a covered tin can to make a little seat for it. Then added toothpicks and pom-poms for the crown. I love it!


And just for the full picture, let me zoom out a bit. This is what my living room looks like in the middle of a crafting session. This was not all of the mess either. 

 Later in the day, Cale also decided to make Annika a doll using the same method. She absolutely loved it. And hugged it and patted it's back for a long time. She was all smiles. She's also got some of the best big brothers ever. Ones that make her dolls and bring her flowers and share their snacks.

linked to Weekend Whatever, The Sunday Showcase,


Lessons from the Beehive: Review and Giveaway

Lessons from the Beehive is the fourth installment to Carol Alexander's Lessons from the Homestead series. It is a wonderful little e-book full of resources, ideas and activities to learn from the bees around you. And no you don't have to raise bees, or even live on a homestead, to benefit from this unit.

What drew me to this series is the fact that it is rooted in how to learn by experience. It's all about pulling lessons from real life. If you have read here for very long you will know that this exactly how I feel. And when I read through Lessons from the Beehive for the first time, I could tell that it is exactly how I would write a unit on bees- only this time the work was done for me! Lessons from the Beehive gives over 50 lesson ideas, vocabulary words and other resources to give you a thorough start to understanding the life of bees and how they can teach you.

The e-book is divided up by subject matter- Science, Geography, Math, Language, and more. There are lessons for all ages- from songs and fingerplays for young ones to designing your own pretend honey business, complete with logos, brochures and labels for the older kids.

I love how many of the lesson pull in those all important life skills. Building. Cooking. Finances. Business. All learned because of bees! Putting a purpose behind all the information will help solidify the knowledge and your kids will retain much more.

Our late summer flower selection is pretty poor right now, but what we do have is an old apple tree dropping tons to apples. It is bee heaven! There were plenty of specimens available for us to observe and talk about. The boys really enjoyed the lessons we chose to do so far, and maybe it will help to ease their bee-fears a little bit.

Would you like to win your own copy?

If you would like to win a copy of Lessons from the Beehive (or any one of the other 3 titles),  you can earn 3 chances to win by doing the following:

"Like" Lessons from the Homestead on Facebook
"Like" It's a Boy's Life on Facebook
Subscribe to the Lessons from the Homestead Newsletter

Please leave a separate comment for each entry! And make sure there is a way to contact you if you win! Giveaway ends Sunday, September 2 at midnight.

This post is linked to Welcome Home Link Up, Homeschooling on the Cheap, Hip Homeschool Moms

This giveaway is closed. The winner is Shannon!


Field Trip Friday: Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary


This week we took a drive over to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. It's 8 acres of land in North Asheville. Mostly wetlands and marshes. We didn't see the map of the sanctuary at first so we headed off down the trail the boys picked. It was a wooded trail that wound around beside the lake- but it wasn't the way to the boardwalk.

The first thing we noticed was this flower- it was everywhere. I brought some of our field guides with us- birds, butterflies, trees and weeds- but Rylan identified it as Jewelweed without having to look it up. There was another flower- 4 petals, white, vine- that was also all over the place. We haven't identified it, but Rylan took a bunch of pictures of different plants to id later. 

 What I realized on this trip is that my kids aren't patient enough for birdwatching! It's like fishing. If you don't catch something in 5 seconds then you are done. I tried to get them to sit and just watch a few times, but they are the on-the-go type. So we walked, collected seeds, moss and leaves.

We did see one bird (well, we saw more, but not close enough to take pictures or identify).  So our birding trip turned into more of a plant trip.  And we came home with acorns, an unidentified fruit of some sort, pine cones, etc.

 We did finally make it back to the parking lot, and the sign and map of the area. So we found our way to the boardwalk- which was really nice. The boys took a break to climb on this cool tree.  It was huge and it's branched were all over the place.

 I think if we had found the boardwalk first, and if we had come earlier than 10am, we might have had better luck on the birding part. But it was still a great trip! Maybe we will take an early morning trip in the fall and see what we see then.

Now it's your turn! Have you taken a fun, educational trip this week? Have you taken school on the road and let the experience do the teaching? Add you link below, and please link back here on your post to spread the word and allow others to link up as well!

linked to Science Sunday, Homeschooling on the Cheap,



A glimpse into our week:

Playing, building and creating with wire

 Painting. Lots of painting. For fun and to enter into the upcoming fair.

Reading. Lakin got every book on vehicles he could carry at the library. Today Rylan got the next 4 books in the Warriors series he is reading.

Oil Pastels. I have always loved working with oil pastels. So much nicer than crayons. Lakin and Cohen were inspired by my numerous art peacock art projects on my Pinterest board. So they got some feathers out to draw. Rylan finished one to enter in the Mountain State Fair.

 Clay and Airplanes. Lakin made an awesome model of a Thunderbolt out of clay.

Nature. We found this spiky thing crawling outside. We haven't identified it yet.  And this morning I found this huge beetle outside the back door. They identified it as a Dung Beetle. Cale was disappointed that it didn't suddenly start rolling the chicken poop he set it by.

You may have noticed that I like peacocks. I have always wanted to own a pair. I almost had one. He was hatched weak. He was unsteady on his feet and always tired. He fought to survive for 2 weeks, before he lost his fight. I'm sad, he was a sweet little bird. One day I'll have my beautiful birds, but for now I'll just collect my polka dotted guinea feathers.

Tomorrow we are heading out to do some bird watching. Don't forget to come back on Friday, to read about that adventure and to link up any of your own field trip posts on Field Trip Friday!

Linked to Meet Me Monday


Not-Back-to-School: The It's a Boy's Life Boys (and Girl)

It's student photo week on the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop. So for those of you who are new, allow me to to introduce you to my crew. For those who read regularly, I hope you enjoy the pictures!

My oldest, Rylan. 6th grade. With one of his beloved chickens. She's a Partridge Rock.

My second, Cale. 4th grade. With his top hat chicken. She's a Buff Polish.

Third is Cohen. 2nd grade. With his Creve Coeur, Francine.

And my youngest son, Lakin. Kindergarten. With his Mottled Houdan, Black Hat.

And finally the baby of the family. Annika. Mess maker. She doesn't have her own chicken yet. But she does love to feed them. And collect their eggs. And drop their eggs.

 And that is my family! One of these days I'll get a shot off all of us together. All of the great chicken pictures were taken by my dad!

Not Back to School Blog Hop


Field Trip Friday: The Children's Museum of the Upstate


This year I plan on taking more opportunities to take learning away from home, and experience it first hand. At least once a week we will pack up and spend a few hours, or the whole day, exploring. I am challenging myself to think past the standard field trips and zero in on my kids' interests, explore the unknowns of my surroundings and find the value in any outing. In order to help keep myself accountable and to allow others to share their field trips- and their outside of the box thinking- I am starting a new link-up: Field Trip Friday. Please feel free to share any outside of the home learning experience!

This week I am sharing a trip that is not at all outside of the box, but it was really fun and my boys have been wanting to go to this museum for months. This day trip was our birthday present for them, so this past weekend we packed up the car and drove south to Greenville, SC to the The Children's Museum of the Upstate.

It's a huge museum- 3 floors tall. And has all sorts of fun stuff to explore. It's got enough to cover any aged kid so that families with large age spans will all have a great experience. Annika loved the Bi-Lo Market. She spent a lot of time filling  her cart with produce and putting it back....and filling it up again. It was situated right next to the climber (pictured above) so she spent a lot of time there while the boys climbed as long as they wanted.

The construction center was a big hit too. The older boys spent time with the magnetic crane. Annika made paths with huge blocks or helped Lakin load bricks into a wheelbarrow to send up the conveyor belt.

The vehicle area was a lot of fun too. A couple large-enough-to-sit-in cars, tons of Automoblox pieces to build your own car with and send down test tracks. For my car obsessed kids it was heaven!

The water area- the best part to any museum according to my kids- was one of the last places we visited since they were sure to come out soaked. They had 2 areas- one for the 5 and under crew and one for the older kids. Annkia got to hang out and pour water and collect ducks (and get soaked) while the older boys got to manipulate water in tons of cool ways.

Once they were thoroughly soaked we moved back up towards the exit, but got distracted quite a few times- in the music room, in the market again, in the Healthy Heros section.

Annkia discovered her love for slides this day. Especially this one- which the boys also found hilarious. It's a stomach. And it makes all sorts of "digestive" noises.

And that was our trip! Have you taken any field trips this week? Or have an old one to share? Please add your link!