Thursday, November 12, 2015

FIAR: Make Way For Ducklings and Owl Moon

I think it's been firmly established that we're huge fans of Robert McCloskey's books. They're all so fun and well-written. There hasn't been a single one that kids didn't love to hear over and over. We recently did Make Way For Ducklings with the boys and littles. 

 They got to learn about things like the food chain, 

 Boston, MA (which included seeing pictures of Grandpa at the Boston Public Park where there's a bronze sculpture of the Mama duck and all her ducklings!). Google maps makes it so you can look at aerial pictures of Boston as they are talked about in the book. You can also go to streetview and such. It is a fun way to explore where the book took place. Of course visiting ourselves someday is on the to do list.
how various animals acted as parents,
How to put things in alphabetical order, and calendars
 and even some ducking math. 

They just loved hearing about Mama duck marching her ducklings down the street while the policemen stopped traffic for them. And they liked their names, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack. :)

The next book we did was Owl Moon. Again, we did this one before with Olivia, but it's also one of our favorites and the boys loved it, too. During the summer, we can hear owls hooting all around the neighborhood, so this was a familiar thing.

 We talked about the phases of the moon (we didn't get to do this one during a full moon so we will be taking walks and looking for our shadows once the full moon reappears later this month), what "nocturnal", "diurnal" and "crepuscular" mean and the different kinds of animals that fly at night. (Just in case you're stumped by "crepuscular" like I was, it means an animal that's most active at dawn and dusk.
We looked at what owls do during the day and night and where they and other animals live. 
The boys made some cool paper owls and then we did the best part:
Owl pellets!

We'd only seen one once years ago so this was a pretty new adventure for us all.  

 They each looked over their pellet, which is essentially what the owl spits up after eating. They noticed it was fuzzy, which makes sense since it's pretty much hair and bones.
Then they took them apart and sorted out the tiny bones to see what they had in them. 
Both Gabe and Ezra had 3 whole mouse skeletons and olivia had at least two, but her's were harder to sort out since the skulls weren't intact at all. 
 Then they worted the bones to see what kind they were; vertebrae, legs, skull, etc.

In the end we tried to assemble one of the skeletons as best we could. There were so many teeny tiny bones it was hard to figure out what was a foot bone vs just a broken piece. It was so cool.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Alamance Battleground

With all our studies of the Revolutionary War, it never occurred to us that there was another battleground in our area besides Guilford Courthouse.: Alamance Battleground. While it wasn't actually during the war, it was a skirmish that was a clear precursor and, according to some scholars, the true "first shot" of the Revolutionary War.
The Battleground had an open school week, where admission was free and they had a number of re-enactors there demonstrating the various crafts and roles people played at the time. 

First, we got to see a 4-pound cannon up close. The kids even got to act like they were on the gun crew and learn how to load and fire the gun. 

They got to see and feel different types of cartridges and shot that were fired at the time. There wasn't really one that i would have wanted to be on the receiving end of, but grape shot sounded particularly unpleasant.

We moved on to listen to a gentleman talk about being a "long hunter". He would spend weeks or months out in the woods tracking and hunting game for meat, skins and furs.

The kids then got to learn about candlemaking.

 Right next to that was a man turning wood on a foot-powered lathe. 

 He let all the kids get a chance at pushing the foot pedal and Olivia got to actually hold the gouge as she did it. 

It's really rather impressive the quality he was able to get from so primitive a set of tools. He didn't use any sandpaper to finish his works, only his lathe and chisels/gouges.

 After that, we talked to a man who was dying yarn. He showed us the various colors he was able to get from natural sources.
 He had a pot of water with black walnut husks over a fire with yarn being dyed a dark brown.

He also talked about how linen (made from flax) took and held color differently from cotton or wool.
 Now, this was right up Rebecca's alley: a doctor. He explained a whole lot about how medicine progressed during that time and how doctors knew, for example, that if they didn't get out the piece of shirt that went in with the bullet, the patient would get sick and die, but what they didn't know was why.

 He showed us his medicine chest and Rebecca got to see some suturing needles up close and was surprised that they are very similar to what's still used today.

Nearby there was a log cabin where a woman was spinning cotton into thread. It's impressive to see how fast that spinning wheel moves and how it twists the puffy cotton into such tight thread.
 Inside, we were lucky enough to get to see two ladies finish weaving a rag rug on the loom.
 I can't imagine having to string that monster...
 The kids got to help pull the finished rug off the loom.
 It was rather long... It was actually a runner for the floor of the cabin.

The kids had a great time and it was cool to get a hands-on demonstration of how things were at the time we've been studying about.