Monday, November 19, 2007

Live Butterflies at AMNH

Mikro and I joined one of my oldest, dearest friends at the American Museum of Natural History for their annual live butterfly exhibit. You enter a sauna-like plant filled room and see hundreds of them fluttering about. This year they had a glass case full of chyrsalises, and we actually witnessed a monarch butterfly emerging from one!

Mikro was in awe. And soon, so were the elderly museum docents, whom he insisted on lecturing at length about metamorphosis and butterfly feeding habits and anatomy. They were very surprised at how much a child of four could understand and explain! People are always surprised by his vocabulary and his love of all things natural and scientific.

It was also the first day to see the origami tree, which my photos do not begin to do justice.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Linky Love

Downloadable science and nature songs

Gardening Projects & Activities for Kids

Storynory Kids Stories Podcast

Keith Haring Interactive Coloring Book

Dover Children's Book Sampler- Printables

Great craft supplies, active play items, etc. for kids of all ages! Discount School Supply

New York Metro Parents-- Stuff for Families to Do in & around NYC

Homeschooling Heaven -- the Library Book Sale!

This is Mikro, excited about the local library book & bake sale (though because of his gluten allergy, no baked goods for us. Sigh.)

And here he is with our loot.

At this point, Kev was looking decidedly less happy about where we're going to house these new volumes... And that *is* a quandry, but the books were too good to pass up, even though the prices went up this year.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nature Study: Ladybug Lifecycle

We're still on our nature study kick, and one of our recent projects was studying the ladybug life cycle. Now, I am 42 years old, and up till now, I never knew ladybugs went through stages in any form but egg and ladybug... Well, they actually undergo metamorphosis!

We got our ladybug larvae in the mail on October 5th, from Insect Lore. They are odd looking critters, and very active.

On October 10th, we saw our first chrysalis.

This is the underside:

And finally, on October 15th, our first adult ladybugs emerged:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blue Mountain Homeschoolers' Hike

Blue Mountain Reservation has many trails I have never hiked, including one that goes to the summit... On October 18th, we went on a hike with our Homeschoolers Nature Class. Mikro and I made it about 95 percent of the way up, but we fell behind at the end, and the trail all but disappeared, so rather than be the ones they had to call out the helicopter for, we waited below. Along the way, we saw leaf galls, bark beetles, a wood frog and lots of beautiful foliage. It was quite a workout, especially for Mikro, who had never before hiked really uneven terrain. He very did well, considering.

Afterwards, I was astonished to find that the kids still had enough energy to run around the playground for another couple of hours before the moms called a halt. At the playground area, we got to see a red tailed hawk attempting to catch a squirrel for lunch. He failed, as the squirrel dived into a nest. Which made the hawk try harder... he almost succeeded in ramming the nest out of the tree, but ultimately, the squirrel escaped. This happened literally right over our heads. Amazing!

After the playground, Mikro and I walked to my friend Leela's and spent the rest of the afternoon socializing and painting and sampling Leela's amazing Indian cooking (well, I did. Mikro stuck to his usual yogurt. Sigh.)

My back hated me for a couple of weeks after the hike, but seeing Mikro so proud of himself for overcoming his fears was worth the price in pain.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Swarms of Ladybugs

At nature class today, the kids learned about the capped landfill, and why it is important to remove trees that start growing there. Then they assisted park naturalist Scott in chopping some down. Mikro and the younger kids followed me around as I attempted to beat the bushes and catch bugs in a net. We came up with 7 different species, the universal favorite of which was the yellow and black ladybug.

At lunch on the playground, we discovered swarms of red ladybugs covering the play equipment. All the kids helped Mikro catch them. We must have over three dozen beetles, all of whom are currently inhabiting a large terrarium, constructed out of a huge plastic pretzel barrel, in my living room. That's in addition to the fifteen or so we saw develop from larvae in a different bug jar. So, more than 50 bugs, representing three different species...

Happy Halloween

We've been having lots of fun here. Last week was the Homeschool Nature Class Halloween party. The kids had to dress up as something from nature. Mikro was a monarch butterfly, and he's so into butterflies at the moment, he refuses to wear his traditional NASCAR driver costume tomorrow, even though I got him a Dale Earnhardt Jr. suit this year.

He's worn his butterfly getup to our trips to the Great Pumpkin Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor, and his Gramma got to see him in it on Saturday when she accompanied us to see the pumpkins.

Sunday we went to Philipsburgh Manor to see their Legends event. They have storytellers in costume reading the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and after that you can see the Headless Horseman riding by.

There are also witches at a cauldron, pirates singing, ghostly ballerinas, spooky scarecrows and bonfires. Mikro was really too young to fully appreciate this event, and I think we'll proably pass on a return trip till he's 8 or 9 years old or so.

But the Pumpkin Blaze is just his speed. We asked him which pumpkins were his favorites. The answer? The rotting ones! Which makes a bit more sense when you know we've been reading books about the lifecycle of the pumpkin, one of which details the rotting pumpkin part.

These are some of Mikro's favorite pumpkin and Halloween books:

Pumpkin Jack
Pumpkin Circle
Mousekin's Golden House
Pumpkin Pumpkin
Skeleton Hiccups
Dem Bones
The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything

And in the linky love category, go check these out:

Hallowen post with great links & cylon pumpkin at Geek Dad
Skull A Day Blog
Very Cool!

Have a happy halloween, everyone!