Monday, December 30, 2013

Peregrine Falcon Book Signing

A couple months ago, Mr. T & I went to the Audubon Society to meet a local author who wrote a children's book about the peregrine falcons in Portland. Peregrine falcons are the fastest animal in the world. They can dive at speeds up to 242mph to catch their prey. I'm sure this is one of the reasons Mr. T is interested in them.

First we listened to a presentation about peregrine falcons. We learned that by the 1970's these falcons were nearly extinct in North America. Farmers were spraying their crops with the pesticide DDT. This pesticide made the eggshells of the falcons thin & most eggs would break before the chick was ready to hatch. Eventually, DDT was banned in the U.S. and these falcons started making a comeback.

Falcons in the City by Lisa C. Manning
It's a cute story about Frida, a young peregrine falcon, who nests on a bridge in Portland.

The author signing Mr. T's book. She was very nice. Mr. T is a kid who asks many questions. She didn't seem to mind at all. He learned that she illustrated the story with watercolor paintings.

Dark-eyed JuncoWe saw a few wild birds hanging out near the feeders at the Audubon Society.

Anna's Hummingbird

We also watched this mouse try & try to get to the food, but because of that round, clear thing on top he just couldn't get it.

He was very entertaining. We watched him for quite awhile.

Finnegan, one of the Audubon Society's educational birds. Mr. T asked the woman who was holding him all sorts of questions. One was, "What does Finnegan eat?"  She told Mr. T that Finnegan eats quail that have been raised by a local farmer. We found this to be especially interesting since we have quail, too.

Finnegan was hatched with a bad foot, which is why he is at the Audubon Society. He is just beautiful!

This was such a great experience for both Mr. T & I. Mr. T likes to write & is very interested in animals, so this was a perfect way for him to see how those two interests can work together.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Alice in Wonderland costumes

Ok, I think this is finally my last post about Halloween. At least I got it in before the new year began.

Mr. T, Princess K & I dressed up in an Alice in Wonderland theme for our church's harvest party. My hubby & Capt. N were at a cub scout event that weekend so they weren't part of our fun. I would have enjoyed them being there, but honestly it was nice to only have to make 3 costumes instead of 5. We didn't decide on this theme until a week before the party, which meant I spent every free second pulling together the costumes.

Alice & the Mad Hatter

Mr. T's natural personality fits the Mad Hatter character perfectly.
The hat: a dollar tree hat as the base, then a cardboard frame & paper mache to make it tall
The wig: Brave's Merida wig
The jacket: leftover material from when I made our Star Wars costumes.

Princess K as Alice
The skirt: completely made from tulle
The top: My own design using tulle, blue fabric & shiny white leftover fabric from her Princess Leia costume

And, me as the Red Queen
I used a McCall's pattern. The pattern, for the most part, was easy enough to follow. My biggest hang up was putting in the zipper. I've never put in a zipper correctly before & was determined to do it right this time. It took me 4 or 5 times to get it right. Too many times undoing my stitches was really starting to make me grumpy. But, I eventually finished it. I thought the kids would enjoy me dressing up with them & they did. But, I'm still not sure it was worth the time, effort & money to make the costume for me.

I do appreciate Halloween as a chance to dress up & have fun with pretend play. I heard  "Off with their heads" & "I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!" many times that day.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Halloween Themed Activities

During our school break between the first & second quarter, I put together a couple Halloween themed activities for the kids to do once school started again. This is the type of stuff I wish I could do more of with the kids. It's fun & they're not only learning, but learning without filling in worksheets.

** MATH **
I loved this math idea at No Time for Flash Cards, so I created our own.
I drew one haunted house, then changed the math activity for each of the kids. Mr. T did multiplication.

Capt. N had to match the fraction with the percentage & decimal.

Princess K did addition.

Princess K also used the ghosts to place the numbers 1-10 in the correct order.

Mr. T used this template in the Scholastic October Idea Book for division practice.

I used the same ghost & wheel to make rhyming words for Princess K to read.

I turned the pumpkins into a sight word memory game for Princess K.

In last quarter's wrap up, I showed the Haunted House Books the kids made. Here's a closer peek at the books.

The cardboard was cut to size, then the kids painted it all black. The shingles were made by painting 2 sheets of paper randomly, then tracing a shingle pattern & cutting out each shape. The kids added other details using twigs, cardboard, paper & markers.

Capt. N's titled his story Scooby Doo and the Pumpkin Headed Werewolf.

For the boys, I printed sheets of paper with lines for their text & a blank space at the top for their drawings.

Mr. T's story was The Not Very Scary Monster.

The books really turned out cute.

Princess K's was a book of Halloween words. I printed one group of lines at the bottom of her page for her to write the word. Then, she drew a picture at the top.

I gave them a few goodies on Halloween: 2 erasers, a pencil, a bookmark & McDonald's coupons.

Mr. T chose to grow rainbow corn in his garden row this summer. By fall, it grew very tall.

Mr. T's rainbow corn.

We grew pumpkins this year, so when it came time to carve jack o' lanterns we just went to the garden & grabbed 'em.

Our home grown pumpkins.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Trip to the Pumpkin Patch


Back at the beginning of last January, I made a goal of finding 100 different bird species in 2013. Since it was nearing the end of the year & I hadn't found my 100 birds yet, I decided I needed to go some place different. I had read online that sandhill cranes were on Sauvie Island, an area outside of Portland. I didn't have sandhill cranes on my list, so I took the kids & we went to Sauvie Island. Well, I still don't have a sandhill crane on my list because we never saw them. Dang it! But, we did stumble across a pumpkin patch at Sauvie Island Farms.

We had fun.

We had never been to this pumpkin patch & I'm so glad we drove by & stopped. It's not fancy, it's not commercialized. It's a beautiful farm that sells pumpkins & other produce.

So many lovely flowers!

The kids loved climbing this pyramid.

They spent a long time looking at the animals - even though we have many of the same ones.

An emu. We don't have an emu, although I did have a chance to buy one not to long ago. I love them. They appear so prehistoric.

A beautiful farm!

A small corn maze entertained us for a few minutes.

We went on a tractor ride around the farm.
Mt. St. Helens in the background.

Although we didn't need to buy carving pumpkins, we did buy little pumpkins for launching.

The kids launched & launched & launched pumpkins until every pumpkin finally broke enough that it couldn't be launched anymore.

Grabbing her pumpkin for launching.

Some days & some outings are just better than others. This was a perfect day out. The weather was great, the kids behaved well (mostly), & we explored the beauty of the harvest season together. It is days like this that make my do-I continue-homeschooling decision that much more difficult. I will miss days like this... a lot.

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