January 28 – February 1 2013 – Life Down Under

This week is all about the wonderful world of Oz, aka: Australia. We started the week with a co-op lesson on the Great Barrier Reef and dot paintings of tropical fish

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Then following co-op E was immersed in the world of theatre with stretching, singing, memorizing lines and learning choreography.

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Tuesday we used research we collected last week and began creating a poster for E’s presentation on Emu’s next week. She is creating a presentation board that shows the Emu in it’s habitat and uses an interactive display to give additional info about Emus and their life cycle. Swimming lessons followed by a family swim at the end of the day made for a late night and an exhausted girly!

This is the website for the language dvds we are using. Even though they are intended for a young audience E seems to enjoy them and is remembering a lot of vocab. We have mostly French but I bought one Spanish and would like to work on that as well;

http://www.push44.com/hokx11a5

Wednesday I had a meeting in the morning so it was time with Dad and some more emu research. We have been incorporating more electronic mediums into our school program and with the arrival of E’s school ipad it has been a whole new learning world for us. We are using Math IXL for patterning activities and Raz Kids for reading as well as ibooks and Kindle e-books. We have installed Overdrive and hope to begin using our DL e-library as well. E is enjoying reading so much now and is making great strides across the curriculum! PE today was our suppertime dance party and for supper in the spirit of research we had some delicious Emu Steak!

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Thursday we started the morning with piano lessons then worked on E’s research project board. She is also working on organizing her information into an outline for her presentation. Swimming lessons at the end of the day for PE.

Friday morning was full of errands then we headed to E’s grandparents for a night spent playing with cousins and her brothers!

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Saturday brought our final research exercise with a trip to the zoo to visit the emus and check out what kinds of props we might procure

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Emu scat, actually an important feature of E’s presentation and yes this is a gross pic!

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A curious Roosevelt Elk wondering what we were up to when all the other visitors appeared to be gone for the day.

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Bald Eagles are native to our area and we see them frequently at this time of year. Their nests are always so dramatic that I just can’t resist taking pics of them.

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This is actually an Ostrich egg and we are hoping we will be able to find an Emu egg for next week but if not, this will be a size comparison at least. How many people would 1 Ostrich Egg Omelette feed?

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Living with Nature; dirty, messy, sometimes irritating, Nature

We went camping for one greatly disappointing night last week. It was a beautiful day and my husband had time off as we the kids and I were returning from a mini-vacay with extended family. We agreed by phone to rendez-vous at a pristine campsite on my way home.

We never imagined the bugs would be so bad! After some last minute supply shopping and a fairly rugged drive up a logging road, (go minivan!!), we arrived at our campsite at dusk. We set to work getting the tent up and supper made immediately. It was a balmy 22-23C but the bugs, did I mention the bugs?, forced us into long pants, jackets with hoods and any other heavy clothing we could find.

The nasty gnats, scoffed at our so called repellent and attacked us full force. Humans 0/ Skeeters 100s…

And so following this ill-fated adventure, the question my seven year old has been asking all week: why did God invent mosquitos??? Usually voiced in a loud, whiny, slightly distressed tone.

Well I’ve been thinking would spiders and dragonflies survive without mosquitos to eat? There certainly seems to be plenty of fruit flies, gnats and other smallish bugs that they could eat. What exactly is a mosquito’s role in the food chain? And off I went to ask our friend Google…

According to the following webpage: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100721/pdf/466432a.pdf

it’s their larval stage that has the greatest food chain value, however, they really could be wiped out and the ecosystem would not be greatly changed. Hmmmnnnn, ok well that would be nice if scientists really could safely wipe them out. Next on the agenda, why do their bites have to itch so much???? Is there any purpose in it? This is the kid-friendly explanation: the bug leaves spit in you after it bites you and your body is fighting the spit to get rid of it. (http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/08/why-mosquito-bites-itch/) I think my four year old actually likes the idea of his antibodies being ninja’s or knights and bravely fighting the mosquito spit. Of course all that swordplay has to itch a little, don’t you think?

In the effort to try and help my daughter stop whinging about her discomfort and boldly move forward in life and all it’s messiness we have answered another one of life’s important questions!

My boys actually received more bites but didn’t complain at all. Is it because they just ignore the discomfort better? Is this a “boy” thing? Anybody have any thoughts on that?

Madly off in All/ New Directions

After a hiatius that took us almost through the end of July, here I am on July 30th and expanding the scope of this blog. This started as a way to track our weekly homeschool activities and report to our teacher, however, as our learning journey is so much broader than school I want to cast our blog net a bit wider. It is a time of plenty in our temperate coastal region. We’re in the midst of summer and my garden is producing all kinds of bounty. Having lived in the urban core of a couple of major Canadian cities for the past decade, this life in the burbs is GOOD! I have a garden, I have fruit trees and I have a kitchen I can bake in! This week our neighbour’s plum tree is loaded with beautiful golden plums and luckily for us, there are several branches that extend waaaay over the fence 🙂 I don’t know what variety they are but they are almost like small soft and very juicy nectarines but more tart in flavour.

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After eating rather embarrassing numbers of plums fresh off the tree, the pertinent question has been “What shall we do with all these plums?” An on-line search revealed a few recipes and many recommendations for drying or canning them. Alas, we have no dehydrater or canning pot so I have decided to freeze some and bake like crazy. The first item on the list: Plum Upside Down Cake. I found the recipe here: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/plum_upside_down_cake/

Step 1: Take pictures of the gorgeous plums!Image

Step 2: Cut up said gorgeous plumsImage

Step 3: Make a caramel sauce to put in the bottom of the cake panImage

Step 4: Lay plums artistically in sauce.Image

Step 5: Make cake batter and pour in on top of plums

Step 6: bake at 350F for 35-40 mins until cooked throughImage

Step 7: admire handiwork and enjoy!Image