Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hudson Valley Eagle Fest

This is the second year we attended the Hudson Valley Eagle Fest, which was on February 7th (finally cleared enough room on my hard drive to download the photos...) We saw our friends from Beczak Environmental Education Center, Croton Point Park Nature Center, and Teatown Lake Reservation hosting the many eagle and Hudson River related activities.

Bill Streeter of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center put on an amazing live bird display and taught us all so much about birds of prey. At some point I will get around to journaling my notes from his presentation. It was fascinating, and held Mikro's utterly rapt attention.

This is Benson, who was rehabilitated by the DVRC after being shot. He would not survive in the wild if released, so he is an educational ambassador these days.

Most of the festivities took place at Croton Point park, and various other locations where eagles are routinely sighted. Our local historic site, Van Cortlandt Manor, also had craft activities and opened its grounds to eagle seeking hopefuls, which is very cool, because it is usually closed in the winter, and the grounds were lovely in the snow. I finally got an opportunity to do a real sketch! Drew a bald eagle from a reference photo using white prismacolor pencil on black paper, and helped Mikro try his hand at an eagle as well.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Last Day of the Great Backyard Bird Count

Number of Species: 11

Turkey Vulture - 1
Mourning Dove - 7
Downy Woodpecker - 2
American Crow - 3
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
European Starling - 35
Dark-eyed Junco - 2
Northern Cardinal - 7
Red-winged Blackbird - 19
Common Grackle - 9
House Sparrow - 5

This was such a cool homeschool science project. Mikro's interest in birds and ability to identify them has grown by leaps and bounds. We had a lot of fun together! Today we tried observing at our feeders, but there was too much human activity in the neighborhood, so we headed over to the Nature Center and watched there. It was hard because we had the setting sun behind the feeders, backlighting everything and making it difficult to see, but we saw a great variety of birds (and sat in bird poop, oh well...)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

Well, we didn't get any bird counting in today (GBBC Day Three).

Instead we engaged in our mutual familial obsession and watched the Daytona 500, which is the kickoff of the NASCAR season. Goodbye, free Sundays. We are back to worshipping at the altar of speed.

Mikro is now rooting for 18 year old rookie Joey Logano (kid supporting fellow kid) as well as Tony Stewart.

Great Backyard Bird Count-- Day Two

Species Count:

Canada Goose 22
Mallard 9
American Crow 4
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 8

Observed near Beczak Environmental Center in Yonkers.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Great Backyard Bird Count -- Day One

Today was the first day of the National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology's annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

This is the first time Mikro and I participated, and we had great fun. I was really pleased about how excited my little guy was about doing this. He helped me count and even spotted a few of our birds and identified them before I did.

We watched our own yard and surrounding area, sometimes from our porch swing, and part of the time from my car, which makes a great bird blind. If we're quiet, they seem to have no clue we're in there watching...

Today's Species Count:

Bald Eagle 3
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 1
Mourning Dove 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
American Crow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 6
House Sparrow 4

It isn't too late to participate if you are interested. It's fun, quick and fairly easy. 15 minutes of your time is all it takes. Give it a try! And check out Cornell's helpful resources for educators (generally) and for the GBBC in particular.

Friday, February 6, 2009

HSNY Field Trip: Museum of the City of New York

We had a wonderful time at MCNY with our homeschool group, learning about what New York was like in the time of Henry Hudson. The kids learned about what the homes of the Native Americans and the Dutch settlers were like, and made "delft tiles" depicting a scene from that era (using blue pencils on cardstock). They got to handle a few artifacts, such as a bedwarmer, candle mold, and water buckets with yoke.

This last one is my attempt at a tile... Mikro drew a deer and a tree, which is only recognizeable through doting mom glasses...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nature Class

Today the kids got to try to identify taxidermied birds, watch birds at the Nature Center's feeders, and examine feathers (both contour and down) under the microscope.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Not a Math Class"

Our homeschool group got together for a math fair. Everyone brought a game or book or math resource to share, and we talked and played together in the community room at a local library.

One of our awesome mama friends taught us Mancala and the Stones Game (and gave us all a set of blank stones to use). Eight year old Z taught the younger kids origami. There were some really cool games, especially 4 Way Countdown, which I must buy...

To play the stones game, you need 5 smooth pebbles (you can add more as kids get the hang of it). You draw a different image on each pebble. Our friend used simple geometric shapes on her set, but Mikro asked for astrological rocks... So his set has the following:

Saturn = 1 point; Sun = 2 points; Moon = 3 points; Star = 4 points and Earth = 5 points.

Basically, you cast the stones like runes, and you count up the total points for the ones that land picture side up. High score wins. (Of course, you could make it more complex by having multiple rounds...)

I brought my set of Dino Dice, which I got from Rainbow Resource, and made up a modified set of rules to include addition and subtraction concepts. Mikro is dinosaur-obsessed, so he loves Dino Dice.

We had lots of fun and got some new ideas for math. Afterwards, we hung out in the library, reading books with our friends.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More Zoo School

We had two more classes at Zoo School at Prospect Park. One was mostly free play at the Zoo's terrific Discovery Center, where Mikro pretended to go camping, played veterinarian practicing on a stuffed animal "patient", and played a very cool frog life cycle board game made up by the zoo staff. We also got to meet a Flemish Giant Rabbit.

Yesterday's class was about texture. The kids felt various objects like sponges, sandpaper, seashells, feathers and fur, and described their texture. Then they tried to guess what the objects hidden in a pillow case were using only their sense of touch.

They met a bearded dragon and got to touch him and describe his texture.

Then they made a craft-- a turtle made from a paper bowl with head, tail and legs stapled on, which they decorated with all sorts of textured materials.