Advent Blessings

As we are in the season of Advent, we are going through the Jesse Tree Devotional, by Ann Voskamp. What I really like about it is that every day you are encouraged to “unwrap more of His love in the world” by doing something tangible to bless others. Today we are blessing our neighbours with this:

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By E

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Road to Bethlehem

What a cool experience we had this evening! Check it out here:

http://murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/road-to-bethlehem/

Happy (almost) Advent!

 

More fun with hieroglyphics!

Last week we did some cool cuneiform letters on clay tablets. This week we finally got to doing our hieroglyphics on papyrus paper. We happened to have pomegranate for breakfast and used the extra juice as ink to colour our paper. : )  We talked about how the Egyptians couldn’t just go to the store and buy paper, but that they had to make it themselves. (Not easy! Phew!) We also discussed what they may have used as inks – mainly pigments from plants. My original plan had been to try to re-create these pigments, however, I thought that using brushes and pigments might frustrate the kids more than not… we used pencil instead, in order to draw the pictographs which can sometimes be a bit tricky!

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Fun with hieroglyphics!

Oh my! This morning we did our reading from The Story of the World, did our accompanying map work and colouring sheet and then I hit YouTube to find some additional videos. This was so much fun! Check it out!

Horrible Histories-Hieroglyphics Song

Also found a sheet of the lyrics so that you can follow along: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/posters/hieroglyphics-song-lyrics

The plan this week is to make clay tablets Sumerian style, as well as papyrus hieroglyphics (Egyptian). 🙂

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My only error here was not putting the clay on wax paper – it would have made clean up so much easier!

The Curious Critters in the Forest

Gorgeous day today! We took advantage of the sun and the warmer temperatures to hike a trail nearby. We heard tree frogs, and saw many wonderful things. We felt the smooth gray bark of the beech tree, noticed mushrooms and fungus, looked under logs for salamanders, investigated rotten logs, and observed bugs, including some strange sort of insect that had white fluff coming from its backside! Upon our first glance, we thought we had found a branch covered with white mold.  As we examined more closely, we noticed that the mold seemed to be moving! The little critters had legs, but large white fluffy bits on their backsides. It seems that we had discovered some Beech Blight Aphids (Grylloprociphilus imbricator), also called the Beech Wooly Aphid (more info here).  The highlight (as always) was the garter snake that Eden spotted, and Dawson chased down. He was quite a feisty little guy! Two and a half hours later we emerged from the trees. What a wonderful way to spend a warm fall afternoon!

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October …

Life is full. And it is good. (Not every day, of course!) But it is a privilege to be home with my kids, learning about early history, creating the Nile River, baking on cold, wet days, biking and running outside like crazy when the sun peeks out from the grey clouds, creating art with oranges and browns and yellows, enjoying swimming lessons, karate class and a new dance class, and loving foster kittens until they are big enough to go back to the shelter and find forever homes.

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Easy Fall Decor

Easy! Fun! So much fun that we spent over an hour on something that I imagined would take all of 15 minutes!

Supplies: crayons or pastels, paper, leaf to trace, scissors and tape!

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Happy fall!

 

 

Apple Time!

Today we had the opportunity to visit a local farm that produces exceptional apples and apple products. Brantview Farm has been in the Howell family since 1820 and the 7th generation is now farming the land. I learned a lot from a very passionate apple farmer. He explained the different jobs that have to be done during each season of the apple farm. I learned that there is no ‘down time’ in the winter as every single tree on 39 acres needs a “haircut”. This year has proven to be a difficult year for the apple farmers due to some seriously wonky weather in southern Ontario. We had a warm winter, which meant that the trees did not completely go dormant; Mr Howell explained that it was like they were ‘napping’ as opposed to ‘sleeping’ as they normally would during a cold winter. We had an early, warm spring which caused the ‘napping’ trees to begin their growing season which was disastrous during a very frosty April. Nippy nippy nip… the blossoms died on the trees. Brantview had anticipated a crop of 10% compared to other years, however, they have discovered that they are up to 25% of previous yields, not bad considering the other weather factor which was a very dry summer. In fact, the dry summer meant that the trees did not put out as many buds as they may have normally, which means that next summer’s yield will be less as well! Who knew that apple trees have already decided on their yields for next summer?!? (I, obviously, did not)  I was impressed to learn about their integrated pest management system (IPM) that has been active on their farm since 1947. It enables them to grow their apples with less need for chemicals and pesticides. They have their apples tested every year by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, and consistently score in the top 5 farms in the province for the least amount of chemicals. In fact, Mr Howell believes that his apples are pretty much on par with organic apples… not that they are accredited as an organic orchard. I was happy to learn that when I eat Brantview apples, I am not consuming pesticides and sprays that are often found on apples. After the informative talk, we had a wagon ride, visited the corn maze, and picked our own Golden Delicious apples. All in all a great outing!

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Archaeology Dig

A couple of weeks ago I put some everyday objects from our life into the garden.

The kids were absolutely enthralled to dig in the garden to find anything we could. (I didn’t let them know that I had ‘planted’ objects there for us to find.) As we dug around the grid I had constructed, I realized that I didn’t really remember exactly where I had dug the garden up. My landmark of a tree had been replaced this past weekend, so I had to guess where to put the grid. We found a few objects including some clay pot pieces, some foil, some paper and a bone. (The kids are calling it the ‘sabre tooth’!)

This activity is one suggested by our History curriculum, The Story of the World. I have never been one to love history. However, I am really looking forward to learning about history with my children!

As we eat lunch, the kids are still discussing what would be cool to find in the backyard. They want to continue digging after we eat!

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So… what did we learn today?

Sometimes my friends and family aren’t really sure what my children are learning each day. So this morning was a bit strange for us, atypical, but I thought I would share an example of life learning that can happen anywhere and anytime when we are at educating at home.

We drove out to a greenhouse to buy mums that were on sale. Unfortunately, they were not open for another 40 minutes and being the kind of person that I am, I refused to drive all the way back home and then all the way back out again. In essence, perhaps one could say that we were learning a bit about being environmentally responsible, and being patient as we wait 😉 ?  We spent time reading a Bible in the shade of an oak tree. We saw some Canada geese in a field. We then examined a very large spider and its beautiful web. We caught small bugs, threw them into the spider’s web and watched the spider grab the insects, wrap them quickly in silk and then administer a fatal bite to the hapless victims. We played Eye Spy (which included turn-taking!) and our favourite word game of rhyming words. Eden found a wooly bear caterpillar and entertained herself nicely for 20 minutes with it. Back at home we identified the caterpillar and we plan to draw it in our nature journals. We also observed a little chipmunk that is sitting and chirping on our front stoop.

But what about what they need to know?? Well, my point is, who knows that anyway? Really. What do you remember from elementary school?

Of course you could argue that your children are learning similar things on your outings on weekends or in the evenings. Great. I’m glad. But I find that we have more time just to enjoy learning what comes our way daily.

This morning we got to spend some time outside in the beautiful late summer sun, read God’s word, see geese, watch a huge spider catching prey, play games as a family, and learn about a new insect. Sorry, don’t mean to offend, but I have to say that I think this tops time spent inside a school building on a gorgeous day. And guess what? We even learned some stuff.

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