Sunday, August 26, 2012

Critter Safari After Dark


Have you ever taken a night time critter safari with your kids? We did, and Mikro had so much fun. We saw some ants, beetles, crickets and an immature katydid.

ant beetle

cricket imaturekatydid

And, of course, lots of spiders!

mediumspider smallspiderwithweb

This one was busy dining on prey caught in his web:

spiderwithprey1 spiderwithpreycloseup

spiderwpreycloseip2 spiderwpreywkevsfingersforscale
(Those are my husband's fingers, to give you a sense of the size of this spider.)

And this one (who was much bigger than the previous one) had a hideout made of leaves stuck together with silk, where she retreated when we tried to get a photo of her:

howtobuildatrap spiderinatrap

spiderintrapcloseup spideroutoftrap


What a fun way to spend a summer evening! And the lid from my iced coffee came in handy as an improvised diffuser for my flash! Without it, the critters just whited out.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Not Back to School Interview With Mikro

Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: Biology and paleontology.

Q: What are you best at?
A: Science.

Q: I need to get better at __________.
A: Handwriting.

Q: What's the best thing about being a homeschooler?
A: I get to stay up late to watch meteor showers and the International Space Station going by.

Q: What's the worst thing?
A: I have to do my work eventually.

Q: What kind of work do you want to do when you grow up?
A: I want to be a biologist or paleontologist. And maybe an astronaut.

Q: This year I want to learn about ________.
A: Biology.

Q: I want to do more _________.
A: Learning about insects. Art projects.

Q: I want to do less __________.
A: Handwriting.

Q:Who is your best friend?
A: Ezra.

Q:I want to go on a field trip to __________.
A: Cape Canaveral!

Q: I want to go on vacation to __________.
A. I don't know.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Look! Up in the Sky! It's...

Sometimes it's the International Space Station going overhead. There is supposed to be a great sighting opportunity tonight. Check your local info, but here in NY it will be about 8:53 pm, if I remember right. It will be nearly 80 degrees above the horizon at maximum elevation, so it's highly visible. You are looking for a really bright, relatively fast moving dot that does not bink. (Airplanes have blinking marker lights; the ISS glows steadily.)



Sometimes it's just the clouds. We like to look for shapes in them... I have never outgrown this, and I sincerely hope Mikro never does either.






And sometimes, it is an utterly breathtaking sunset. These are not in any way retouched. The sky really was this gorgeous! If you remember to look, you can see beauty even in a supermarket parking lot.




A New Family Passtime

We draw at diners... (I always did, but now I've got them doing it, too!)



Nature Nearby

Recent visitors to our yard: the birds and the bugs...


















Thursday, August 23, 2012

Not Back to School Student Photo

I usually wait till the first week of September to take our NBTS photo, but since this is student photo week on the Not Back to School Blog Hop, I'm a little early this year. We will do our traditional NBTS Picnic & Parkschooling kickoff to the new school year in early September as usual...
Not Back to School Blog Hop
So, here he is, my nine and (almost) a half year old, standing in front of the Hudson River, for which our happy homeschool is named:


His IHIP says he's a third grader, but he is the poster child for asynchronous development. He's doing 4th or 5th grade math and middle school to high school level science and history, and he composes stories that are at least middle school level, but has the handwriting of a kindergartener. He talks like a 40 year old, but has sensory issues and is a little "young" emotionally. He has a strong sense of justice and fair play, and he truly believes the credo One World, One People. He's loving, sensitive, funny, creative, curious almost to a fault, and I could not be more happy to be his mama. But when people ask his grade, we tend to hem and haw... He's lucky enough not to have to fit in anyone else's rigid little box, since he's homeschooled.


I also built us a new header image for Homeschooling on Hudson:


Most of the old ones are at the bottom of my blog, if you scroll all.....the......way down.

Kid and Critters at the Beach

Mikro is utterly obsessed with aquatic macroinvertebrates and insects generally. Heck, anything creepy crawly floats his boat, and he has been more than happy to spend the summer reading book after book about such critters. Getting a chance to see the Giant Water Bug, a predacious aquatic insect, in real life rather than just the pages of a book, made his summer!




Mikro wants you to know that Giant Water Bugs are ambush predators who inject their prey with a venom that liquifies their insides. They have large front limbs that they use for catching prey. They are true bugs. In one genus, the male carries the eggs on his back until they hatch. Unlike water scorpions, the eggs do not have a snorkel like tube that they can use to get air. So the male Giant Water Bug (of this particular genus) surfaces from time to time to get them air. Other varieties of Giant Water Bug simply deposit their eggs of the stems of aquatic plants. Adult giant water bugs have a snorkel tube on their abdomen for getting air while submerged. Mikro learned this from his reading on the topic, especially Sylvia A. Johnson's Water Insects.

We found this video of the little nymphs hatching, which he would like you to see:

In addition to the fascinating Giant Water Bug, Mikro also saw the following cool critters at our local beach:

A cicada:


A cicada killer:






Aquatic snails (Greater Pond Snail and Ram's Horn Snail, he informs me):




And on the path to the beach: White Tailed Deer:


And I spotted this curious critter engaged in rather boisterous behavior in the water and out:






We love our beautiful Silver Lake, which is neither silver (mostly reflected green from the trees) nor a lake (it's a river!)



Enjoy the rest of the summer! We will!