Friday, January 23, 2009

Fire Zone Field Trip

Our homeschool group took a field trip to the Fire Zone, a fire safety learning center run by the FDNY. The kids got to explore a real fire engine, and then watched a fire simulation and crawled through smoke to exit.

We learned some easy to remember rhymes and catch phrases about fire safety:

Don't hide. Get Outside!

Get Low. And GO!

Have a Plan and Practice It!

One thing I had never heard before is that in checking a door to see if it is hot, you should always use the back of your hand, not your palm, so that you don't burn it and make it harder to use your hands to escape.

Nor did I know that in 85 percent of fire fatalities, either there was no smoke alarm or it was not working. (Not sure if that's a national or local statistic). Definitely incentive to test the battery more often!

Afterwards, Mikro and I wandered over to nearby Rockefeller Center to watch the ice skaters.

Later, we got yelled at for tossing crumbs to the pigeons... Oops.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Animal Tracks Close to Home

Found in the yard today:



Mikrosaurus Rex:

(i.e., the boy in his Dino Soles sneakers.)

Homeschool Nature Class -- Tree Bud Study

Today we gathered samples of tree buds, talked about tree identification methods, and looked at the buds under the microscope.

I take notes for Mikro, since he really isn't ready to do that just yet... but I hope my sketchbooks will be a good memory refresher for him (and help me put together quarterly reports next year when he's of compulsory age and I have to do the New York paperwork.)

After class, we watched birds at the feeders, played in the snow (not me!), and drove over to the canoe launch to look for eagles. This time we saw four, but at a distance. Still no jaw-droppingly amazing sightings like we had last year...

But I did get one cool photo of a tufted titmouse in flight.

And on our way out of the park, we saw kite surfers on the frozen Hudson River...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter Hide & Seek at Beczak

This weekend, we did the "Winter Hide & Seek" family program at Beczak Environmental Center in Yonkers, NY. First, the kids learned about the Hudson River and the water cycle. Then they made a snowflake craft.

Then we learned about the winter survival strategies of our local wildlife, and made a field guide to animal tracks using cut out photos and rubber stamped tracks. After that, we braved the frigid weather to see what we could find in the way of tracks out near the river, and enjoyed the gorgeous frozen river views.

Back up in Croton, we drove down to the canoe launch and looked for eagles (no luck) and water birds (tons of geese, swans and several species of ducks).

We warmed up at our favorite Italian place afterwards...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fieldtrip to Brooklyn Childrens Museum

Our NYC homeschool group took a class on pond ecosystems at the revamped Brooklyn Childrens Museum. The kids learned about ecosystems, food webs, and animal adaptations. They also got to meet a live animal, and then enjoyed exploring the rest of the museum after class.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Zoo School

Our NYC homeschool group is taking a series of classes this month at "Zoo School" at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, NY.

At the first session, the kids learned about how animals use color to hide, to warn off predators that they are poisonous or bad tasting (or mimics), or to attract mates.

At our second class, we talked more about animals and color, met some live animals, and played a hot potato like game where the kids were given colored smocks and had to dance until the music stopped, then end up on a square of the same color as their smock in order to camouflage themselves. And they made peacock crowns as well.

After class, we saw the zoo's newest addition-- a brand new baby tamarind.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My State of the Mikro Address

Since it is that time of year... Mikro at 5.7 years old:

  • He's reading!!! Bob books, Hooked on Phonics and Starfall beginner books, and a good bit of some Level 1 easy readers about frogs, bugs and other critters. He's getting the phonics stuff. He has a ridiculously large number of sight words. The sounding out stuff is the big new skill here. He is also constantly demanding that we spell things for him, and will surprise us by reading street signs and random advertisements on the trains.

  • He can count to 100, and do very simple addition (which he learned from playing with sugar packets while bored at restaurants...) For numbers 1-10, he refuses to say them in English, and will only count in Spanish. I suspect this would go for higher numbers as well, if my high school spanish hadn't all but disappeared for numbers greater than 10.

  • He begs to do schoolwork! He loves learning, and he even likes worksheets. We are doing Math U See (just started), Hooked on Phonics and a ton of reading aloud, mostly nonfiction (all about dinosaurs, animals, and science stuff, as well as poetry (he loves rhyming! Drives me nuts with it sometimes...). He has the attention span for longer books spread out over several days. In the New Year, I am hoping to add a history curriculum and maybe very simple Spanish.

  • He's learning to write, despite fine motor issues and an awful, painful looking grasp on the pencil that I haven't yet managed to correct. He can write his name, "I love you" and some other words. He has awful difficulty with the curved letters. B, D, R, S, G are still beyond him. C can face in any direction. He's a perfectionist, and doesn't enjoy practicing writing letters.

  • He says he loves living animals even better than the dinosaurs, and he wants to be a veterinarian. He is obsessed with Dog Whisperer, It's Me or the Dog, Dogs 101, etc., as well as Croc Hunter and The Most Extreme. He is completely in love with our patient old cat, who puts up with excesses of little boy affection with surprising grace. He likes his turtle, Shellie (because she has a shell!), a red eared slider, but thankfully confines his expressions of affection to the verbal and keeps his fingers out of her tank.

  • He is quite a little flirt, and he really loves girls of all ages. He even flirts with the moms in our homeschool groups. He has made some good friends. He is comfortable approaching and talking the ear off anyone of any age, adults included.

  • He loves telling stories and has a menagerie of imaginary friends, including dinosaurs and ostriches... He regales me with their exploits constantly.

  • Favorites:
    • animals: crocs, snakes, dinosaurs, ostriches, emus, cheetahs, giraffes, penguins, dogs & cats.
    • colors: green
    • food: ziti with peas
    • book: Dinosaur Mummy, Oddhopper Opera
    • toy: a plastic ostrich
    • song: Old MacDonald
    • dinosaur: Ornithomimus, Velocisilodont (one he made up)
    • crayon: magenta and green

  • His favorite places are the American Museum of Natural History, the Botanic Gardens and the Zoos and Aquarium. He also loves Coney Island, and any beach, anytime, anywhere. Of course, he loves the parks and nature centers, and especially going on nature hikes. And the playgrounds. And visiting his cousins and grandparents.

  • He now likes music (he used to say it hurt his ears) and sings a lot. He knows the words to many songs, including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and some ecological songs for kids. Favorite artists include Walking Jim Stoltz and Magpie.

  • He is still struggling with food. He's afraid of new things, and resists mightily. I am not above threats of no TV in enforcing our 5 bite rule. Things he's added recently: broccoli, brocolini, carrots, sweet potatoes and green beans (not the pureed baby food either-- real steamed veggies!!!) He's also eating a gluten and dairy free Kids Meal from Amy's Organics that has baked ziti with broccoli, apple crisp, and corn bread. We've expanded our yogurt universe to include coconut milk yogurt as well as soy. He loves mango yogurt and flavored applesauce. And he'll drink soy milk, as well as mango juice, apple juice and orange juice, though mostly he still prefers water. He says he's on a journey to crispy foods (which he still will not try, and insisted I draw him a map. Which I did. It starts at the Plains of Mush, moves into the Rolling Hills of Lumpy, then the Foothills of Solids and on to the Mountains of Crispy Crunchy. What can I say, he is the geeky child of geeky parents...)

  • He still gives the best hugs on earth.

Me: I love you more than the world.
Mikro: I love you too, mama. More than the universe!