Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Plant Classification - Tree Identification

This week we have begun our focus on plants.  This morning I went over leaf shape with the kids and we mainly looked at trees but I also allowed some shrub and flower leaves to be selected so they could see a variety of samples.  We don't have palm trees here in Massachusetts and my lilies were the best place to find an example of parallel veins.

Between pinning websites that have nice identification tools and pulling books from my own shelves, I've compiled a list that I thought might be helpful to you in studying and identifying trees.

Identification Websites



                                                                  Source: oplin.org via Cheryl on Pinterest

OPLIN - This is an Ohio based tree identification site that allows you to identify by leaf, fruit or name.  I like the child-friendliness of this site and the pictures that help them narrow down the choices.

From Virginia Tech's Forestry Outreach Site
                                                                              Source: dendro.cnre.vt.edu via Cheryl on Pinterest

This leaf key is a small portion of what you will find at Virginia Tech's online Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation website.  Both of the above links are from Virginia Tech's Forestry Outreach Site, a wonderful place to visit if you are studying trees.   The first picture of these two will take you to the page that directs your identification according to leaf, bark, twig or form.The picture just below it will take you to the page where you can begin identifying by leaf.

                                                                    Source: rogerstreesandshrubs.com via Cheryl on Pinterest
I would be remiss if I did not include just one more identification site.  Rogers Trees and Shrubs offers a very nice pictorial index for identifying both trees and shrubs which I found very helpful this morning.  You can narrow down your search by clicking on a series of images which will finally take you to a page with specific information about your tree including type of tree or shrub, size, foliage, leaf type, types of fruit, flowering period, leaf color and growing conditions.

Activities and Games with Some Hands-On

Education.com has worksheets for kids of all ages including this cute tree labeling activity for preschoolers, a second grade apple tree growth chart and this word search for fourth graders.

Tree Leaf Card Game - Dayna from Fo-ne-tic-lee Speaking put together this really nice card set that you can print and use for free!

KONOS Volume I - Orderliness offers several good activities involving identification, charting plant groups, leaf sorting activities as well as arts and crafts projects.

The Mystery Challenge was created by the Arbor Day Foundation for schools.  With some prep work, you can use this for homeschool and it provides a clear way to get your kids identifying trees by leaf.  Although this is designed as an indoor activity, you might get the kids outside to collect bunches of different leaves on a nature walk in advance of the activity.  Then use those leaves as your mystery leaves.  You will need to be on the nature walk as well to make sure you get enough different samples as described in the activity directions.

Homeschool Share offers a free lapbook for tree study.

Now for some not-so-very-sciencey-but-certainly-educational-in-an-artsy-way activities:

                                                                           Source: alphamom.com via Cheryl on Pinterest

We painted cherry blossom trees when spring first came to our cold neck of the woods albeit, a little bit early this year but no less welcome.  I got the idea from the pin above.

                                                                         Source: crafts.kaboose.com via Cheryl on Pinterest

There are tons of Christmas and fall tree crafts available online so I tried to steer away from them but this fall tree (and one other I am going to mention in a moment) can easily be made into a summer, spring or fruit tree and I love its simplicity.
                                                                                   Source: ikatbag.com via Cheryl on Pinterest

This one seems a bit more complicated to me. I admit, I haven't tried it. The blogger shares her instructions with excellent photos. Go check it out and please let me know if you've tried it.
                                                                      Source: childmadetutorials.blogspot.com via Cheryl on Pinterest

GORGEOUS! I just love this tree and I have enough paper bags to give it a try. This is the other tree labeled a "fall tree" but I can see how, with a little paint on the paper rolls before slicing, it could easily be a spring or summer tree.
Books and Videos
The line of Fandexes (Fandi?  How do you pluralize Fandex?) from Workman Publishing is extensive.  We have a couple different ones and they are always fun to pull out.  The Tree Fandex is no exception.

My favorite little books, The Golden Guides are easy to use, filled with lots of pictures and small enough to fit into your pocket on your next nature hike.

I filled the Amazon Carousel with an assortment of books and videos.  Most are about trees but a few explore the purpose of seeds.  I like to use different types of resources that are both informative as well as some that are purely for enjoyment.  Combining pleasure reading that is still focused on your topic with your fact based books will help keep your kids more focused and allow them to enjoy variety.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Skit Guys - The Birdcage

Today's selection will mark the end of this short video series with a poignant message from one of my favorite comedy teams.  God bless you this day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chonda Pierce - Psychiatric Hospital Bit

This woman is not afraid to talk about funny stuff.  I just love her!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mother's Day with The Skit Guys

Mother's Day is coming so make sure you show your mom how much you appreciate her.   I love you Mommy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Have Your Taxes Done Rock n' Roll Style

I think I'm just doing a comedy series this week.  I keep watching hilarious videos and they make me laugh and you know laughter is good for you.  It says so in the Bible.  I guess that means you have to watch the videos I'm posting this week.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Our HOW II Medieval Feast

Our KONOS History of the World co-op celebrated the completion of the Middle Ages last week by holding a feast.  After weeks of helping us with costumes, Johnnye came dressed in her own Medieval dress.  With a class full of kids with little or no sewing experience, I was totally impressed watching them develop their handy skills under Johnnye's tutelage.
The "board game" the students created was based on the third crusade.  They had three teams set out on crusade from the home countries of Germany, France and England.  They had to follow their path over land and sea to reach Israel, answering trivia questions and completing activities along the way that coincided with events that happened during the third crusade.
When the French King Phillip got sick he was carried along the route.  The action associated with this event was that two members of the team had to wheelbarrow race until the next turn.  Sadly, we didn't get to do all of the activities that we came up with.  Some of the game actions included the Germans having to carry the cross for the entirety of the game because they were the first to take up the cross in this crusade, German's having to bob for apples when their king Barbarossa drowned, and subsequently having to carry their king for several turns before the team dissolved and parted ways.  Some to the English and French while others deserted altogether.

The feast itself was fabulous.  We had tons of food served in three separate removes.  Between the removes we gave time for tummies to digest a bit and allow for kitchen details to be taken care of by scheduling in entertainment.  The class made a short Beowulf movie based on the final scene when Beowulf fights the dragon and dies.  They made it into a comedy.  And if I ever figure out how to load videos on the blog without them taking forever, I will post it for you.

The kids displayed their projects all around the foyer of the church where we held the event and we gave time for guests to view their work between the second and third removes.  By then we were all stuffed and needed to move about the building before stuffing ourselves more.
One of our girls is involved in 4H and won awards for her excellent visual presentation she made on Heraldry.
They made stained glass windows when we studied cathedrals and wooden shop signs while learning about village life.
They included family trees that had been created at the beginning of the Medieval study as well as their copies of portions of the Bayeau tapestry.  All of these projects were part of the HOW curriculum.
I wish I had gotten a picture of all the crockpots and roasters that were on the counters and lining the edge of the room. Here is a copy of our menu:
Clove-Grape Juice
Pomegranate Drink
Mint Water
Remove 1
Italian Whole Grain Bread
Honey Butter (optional)
Bashed Neeps
Thick Leek Soup
Roast Chicken
Remove 2
Stew of Apple
Venison Stew
Meatloaf Boar’s head
Toads in a Hole
Remove 3
Apple Fritters
Cream Custard Tart with Fig and Raisin Cream

Most of these recipes and menu ideas came from KONOS History of the World II Medieval Times Week 4 of 13 Medieval Daily Life.  We were also blessed with recipes from a previous feast Johnnye had been a part of.

With all of the work done, I'm glad it is over and I can breath again but it was a great night of celebration with grandparents, friends and loved ones. My daughter (above) with a blessed baby friend and a beautiful couple overseeing the kitchen (below).  Thank you Tony and Dianna!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Latest of the Kids

I love this shot, but I do not have a fabulous camera.  Just a point and click type and even if I did have a great camera, I wouldn't know what to do with it.  But this is our latest of the kids and I love it.  My mom had it enlarged and put on a mounted canvas at Staples and it looks awesome on my living room wall.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Density Experiment

Density experiments are asked for on a fairly regular basis around here.  I don't think my son realizes this is school stuff.  Every now and then on a Sunday evening he will ask me if he can mix a bunch of stuff together in a bowl.  I try to say yes as much as possible except when he wants to pour half a bottle of honey into a bowl of vinegar.  That's when frugal mom radar goes flying up and I have to think quick.  Last time he asked for one of these experiments I was thrilled that I already had a plan in place from a site I found while perusing Pinterest.  E is for Explore is this fabulous website filled with cool yet simple-to-implement science and math experiments. And that is where I found a layering experiment video we could follow along and do at home that would not use up the next morning's milk supply.  

We altered the amounts of the individual ingredients to fit into a half pint-sized mason jar and skipped the liquids I didn't have on hand. (maple syrup and dish soap)  My example shows what happens if you don't follow the instructions exactly.  Don't you just love it when someone does that for you? You see the middle section of ours where it looks all white but has a fading color going up through it?  That shows where we tried to pour the liquids down the side of the jar as instructed but forgot to use the turkey baster.  It really does make a difference using the turkey baster.  We also dropped solid objects in like the video suggests.  You can see the die floating at the top of the bottom layer if you look very carefully at the top picture.  Now that the kids have done this experiment with a plan of order and instructions, I think we'll try it again next time my son asks to pour a bunch of stuff into a bowl.  Except, I'll let him choose the liquids and try to place them in order by density to see what he remembers.