Monday, January 31, 2011

Seasons, Calendar & Time Block

When I planned out my blocks for this 2nd grade year, I purposely set this block for January. The New Year celebration seemed to lend itself to this as perfect timing.
We started talking about the new year (think whole to parts)... then we went into Seasons. Of course, we have been talking seasons for years, but we started with Winter and then went around the year.

The Calendar we decided to make is more of a Wheel of the Year.. see my pic below. This is a beautiful way to illustrate the seasons with pictures and mark birthdays and other holidays and festivals.

They quickly learned the Months verse."Thirty days has September, April, June and November...."

Then we drew in our Main Lesson Books pictures of the months and a verse about each one. This was an extended lesson on writing for them. But, they loved drawing the monthly pictures. In most, they drew the same tree, but with different leaves and scenery depending on the month. Even though they knew the seasons, they seemed to really "feel" this by drawing it out.

We drew out a full calendar page for February in which we will document the weather and phases of the moon each day.

Time was a lot of fun to discuss. We talked about the ancient clocks:  shadow sticks, sundials, hourglasses and candle clocks and why people need to know what time it is.

Due to rainy weather, we made our own tree (tall candlestick) and used a flash light to demonstrate the sun rising in the east and setting in the west and how the shadows looked. The girls loved this! I think it turned out better because they could control the sun!

We then made a clock. (This was so easy and fun!) We painted our paper plates, drew on the numbers talking about minutes and hours and where they are on the clock. I brought in a lovely clock we have on the wall and showed them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Catching a Hummingbird

Saturday morning was cold with a chance of snow flurries, but that didn't deter us or Hummingbird expert, Doreen Cubie from setting our sights on catching a hummingbird.

We live in a temperate climate and about 4 years ago I noticed a little hummer still coming to our feeder well after Thanksgiving. I checked it online and that led me to Doreen's site. She lives about 30 miles south of me and was interested in coming and trying to tag our bird. It was magical! She caught our young male Ruby throat and my then 4 year olds were mesmerized! She returned the following December and almost caught another, but he outsmarted us!

Right after New Years Day, I noticed a male Ruby-throat at our feeder! We have had one of the coldest winters on record here, yet there he was. I changed out the frozen water and cleaned up the feeder. Then I saw him again last Tuesday and emailed her. It was perfect timing for her as she is traveling all over the south catching birds and she happened to be here this week.

She arrived at 7:30am and it was about 32 degrees. She said they usually come quicker when it is cold, because they need the sugar water to get going. She set up her bird-cage trap around our feeder.
 It only took about 10 minutes before we spied the hummer form my office window. He went to the cage and tried to get in, he went around to the door opening and flew in to get his morning "coffee". She has the door on a long piece of fishing line. When he flew in she pulled the line and the door shut. She carefully took him our and put in a mesh bag. Brooke got to hold him. See him at the bottom? His beak was sticking through and it felt like a sharp needle.
 Then Doreen takes him to her "lab" (back of her truck) and looked for any tags. We thought he may be our bird from a few years ago, as she had re-tagged many birds that return to the same place each winter. But he has no tag. He is a full male that weighs about 3.2 oz about the weight of a dime!
 She tagged his foot and then wrapped him in the toe of a stocking and fed him from my feeder. he drank and you could see his throat moving and his tongue!
 Here he is. His throat looked quite orange and she said that was an older male.
 Then we were done and ready to set him free. As before, the girls put their hands together and Doreen laid him gently in and removed the stocking. It takes him a minute to realize he isn't bound anymore. This one was really ready to fly away- he stayed only long enough for me to click this one picture, then flew off!
What magical fun! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Three Kings Day

We had such a wonderful day last week, I wanted to share.

I started by reading the story of Babushka from Family, Food & Friends. Then we made our Three Kings cake (gingerbread this year!) I strung up the 12 stars to represent the 12 Days of Christmas, as this is the 12th Day.  We sang the song of Babushka (Sing a Song of the Seasons) and I cut the cake into 4 yummy slices. Each of us chose a slice and Lily got the coin!

She is King for the Day.

On Saturday, we celebrated a Family Day by going to a quaint cafe and having a hot chocolate with  roasted marshmallows (toasted in front of us!) and then we went bowling!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Winter Crafts

A very good friend of mine, Illya, gave me a beautiful knitted/felted bowl yesterday. I wanted to share this with you because I really love it AND it is an easy project to make.

It seems this time of year lends itself to snuggling up on the couch and pulling the knitting basket close. I am comforted every time I feel the wooden needles and the wool yarn wrapping around my fingers. Maybe it is that inward breath we feel during the dark, cold days. We don't feel compelled to "do" things, especially outdoors. It is a time for reflection on the year past and planning for a new season of in and out breaths.

Here is the link to pattern she sent to me.

I would love to know if you decide to make one, send me a picture!  I am going to start one next week as soon as I get some double pointed needles :)