Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Birds of a Feather

This year in science Hayley, Luke, Will and I are studying Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. Apologia divides zoology into 3 years and introduces animals in the order of God's creation. This year we will be studying birds, bats and insects.

In order to study birds, we needed to be able to see birds. We have set up several bird feeding areas in our yard. We hung a thistle feeder to attract goldfinches. We used an empty soda bottle to make a feeder filled with sunflower seeds. To attract insect-loving birds, we made suet. We mixed together oatmeal, peanut butter, lard, cornmeal, sugar, raisins and birdseed.

Next we placed the suet in zip top bags and then in the freezer to harden. Once the suet was hard, we removed one block from a bag and placed it into our suet feeder. The suet is now hanging in our backyard. It took about a week for any birds to find it, but we have had several visitors this week.

Before we began this study, birds in our yard didn't receive much notice. Now as soon as someone spots a bird whatever else we are doing stops, the kids grab the binoculars and the guide book and start trying to make an identification. So far we've seen a Blue Jay, male and female Cardinals, Song Sparrow, Eastern Wood-Pewee, lots of Mourning Doves, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Mockingbird, Robin, Wood Thrush and the Carolina Chickadee.

A New Year...A New Resolution

No, it's not January and even if it was, I wouldn't be making a New Year's resolution. We are into our 5th week of the school year. So far things are going fairly well. This year we have a 9th, 7th, 5th, 3rd, 2nd and Pre-K student. Andrew (2.5) has a different playmate every 30 minutes to help keep him out of trouble and Daniel (16 mo.) naps through the majority of our school time. I've probably got about another month of relatively smooth days until Daniel gives up his morning nap. Once he does that, I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm praying now that the Lord will give me wisdom for handling that new "wrinkle." (By "smooth" I don't mean perfect, I mean Andrew only interrupted 5 times as opposed to 20, no one has "lost" their reading book, I have all the supplies for the science experiment and Luke and Will aren't wrestling in the floor as opposed to doing their math!)

My resolution for this year is to make school more "fun." When I taught public school my students didn't use a textbook and at least 1/3 of my lessons were hands-on. When I first started teaching my own children, we did a lot of hands-on projects. As our family/school grew those types of activities began to fall by the wayside. Somewhere I became more concerned with "getting school done" than with making learning come to life. Now I don't think everything a kid does needs to be fun. Not all of life is fun. It happens to be a lot of work, and school is a place where kids should learn to be diligent. However, that doesn't mean we don't need to mix in fun projects along with memorizing multiplication facts and writing reports.

I think a lot of my hesitation about doing projects/activities is related to my "Yes Mom" post below. I don't like messes. I don't like being inconvenienced. I don't like getting side-tracked and not accomplishing my "to-do" list for the day. Notice a pattern? All of my excuses are about me, me, me. Christ asks us to die to self and serve others. This year I'm going to try to die to my own selfish desires and do the things that I know will help my kids have wonderful memories.

So quiet down textbooks, spelling tests go to sleep
I'm making memories with my kids...memories they will keep.