Spring Studies and Salamanders

This spring we have finished most of our “formal” studies and have enjoyed shifting our learning to more relaxed pace of nature exploration and outdoor pursuits.

On our walks we have observed orchids, woodpeckers, owl pellets, dragonfly larvae, and one of our favorite, caddisfly larvae. These invertebrates are fascinating as they build their own homes with materials such as tree needles, shells or pebbles.

 

On a recent walk with friends we collected some eggs from a drying up ditch, and a few tadpoles that had already hatched. Over the next couple weeks we have been enthralled watching pond life in our aquarium.  We have observed a mosquito larvae change to a pupa. We have watched the caddisfly’s build onto their homes. There are many tiny tiny insects jumping up in down in the water. The most exciting find was noticing our tadpoles looked different. We had in fact gathered two different kinds. I was stumped as to what one of them was. They are a spotted brown color and have external gills. This is when after a quick google search we realized we have salamanders!

 

I’m quite excited to see all the changes in our “pond.” If anyone one has suggestions on how to keep our little ecosystem alive and happy, and any information on salamanders it would be greatly appreciated!

Starting with a splash. Our Homeschool Ocean Unit

I was actually not planning on starting school quite so soon into September. I wanted time to settle down after summer and get organized. However my girls were so excited and eager to start and I didn’t want to lose that momentum, so we dove in. What a splash! Over the summer the girls really enjoyed the Disney character Moana, with her bravery and independence. We also listened to Island of The Blue Dolphins on our long drive. This also featured a strong courageous girl. Seeing they both were set in the sparkling blue waters of the ocean, I decided to kick off our school with an ocean themed unit study.

It was a lot of work pulling ideas and plans off the internet (THANK YOU PINTEREST!). But it was so much fun.

One of the things I think I will love most about homeschooling, is watching the girls play together. I especially loved the three of them giggling together at lunch time. I will cherish these times when it gets tough, and it will remind me of why I’m doing this.

We colored the world oceans and learned a song naming all of them. We found numerous books from the library on our theme. We went to the spray park on one of the last hot days of the year. We learned about dolphins and the dangers they face from fishing nets, making sure to check our tuna cans for the dolphin friendly lable. we enjoyed making artwork.

 

 

With a crayon resist project and a ocean layers in-a-bottle experiement we learned about oil and water repelling and density of liquids. We watched a Magic School Bus episode on sinking and floating. The girls enjoyed free play in sand and water with shells, coral and animals.

We created a “lap-book” compiling some of the facts we learned on animals, ocean layers and names of the world cceans. The girls both became very interested in dolphins, so we finished our unit with the films Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2, about a true story dolphin named Winter that was rescued after being caught in a fishing net and fitted with a prosthetic tail.  We visited Winter’s website where we could watch live-feed video of her swimming around at the aquarium she lives at in Flordia.

One of our favorite activities was measuring. Outside we measured out the length of a Sperm whale. Miss B is standing at the tail and Miss S is sitting near the tip of the head. It really brought some perspective. We figured the whale was pretty much the length of our house and garage. We also traced the girls’ bodies and compared them to giant clams, shells and jellyfish.  Later Miss S found a box of sand dollars downstairs, so we watched a you-tube video explaining where they come from. We also learned that when broken, you will find tiny bones inside that look like doves. We learned of the Sand Dollar Legend where the markings and structure of the Sand Dollar represent the life of Jesus Christ. This lead to a great discussion on what a symbol is and other symbols we know of.

It was a super fun unit to kick off our homeschooling. Great memories made!