Thursday, March 31, 2011

Birds' Nests - stART

We read a couple of books about birds' nests, yesterday. The first...

...Even an Ostrich Need A Nest by Irene Kelly, is a fanciful, but nonfiction children's books, about how birds from all over the world build their various nests. It's one of those books with illustrations to capture the younger crowd, but filled with enough facts to keep older children reading, too. And, there is a world map at the back of the book, showing where all the birds are from.

Doris L. Mueller's The Best Nest... a fictional legend, explaining why there are so many different types of nest. Apparently, when the world was young, all of the birds noticed how strong, and good the magpie's nest was, so they ask for a lesson. Some of the birds, simply failed to listen to the entire lesson, taking one, or two of the steps away, and building their nests from there.

Because of this, children are taken on a tour of various types of nests, that birds build, in a really easy to remember manner. There is a learning section at the back of the book, which can also be printed out from the publisher's website, here, that offers fun bird facts, bird math, and a bird to nest matching activity.

After we read the stories, A (age 10) announced she was going outside to build her own nest. She was joined by D (age 8), while I went off to assure the Man of the House, that the mud they were making was for educational purposes.

They gathered dirt for mud...

...and various dried grasses, and twigs from around the yard. Ultimately they settled on the dried mint plants, that we haven't cleared out of the garden yet, as their main building materiel.

Although they would have liked to have built their nest in a tree...

...they decided that for a first nest they'd take an easier route, and started by digging a small hollow in a pot of dirt to build their nest around.

Using a small garden trowel in place of a beak, they worked together, A building the nest, and D gathering supplies.

In the end, their nest reminded me of the mourning dove nest from Mueller's book.

"...the male brings sticks to the female to place in the nest. The female builds a careless platform of sticks with little, if any, lining of grass or weeds. The nest is so loosely made that it often falls apart in a storm."

But, they were immensely proud of it. D announced, that he had discovered mud was not only good for mortar, but also for making a soft lining for the nest. A, said she learned the best mud to use, was thoroughly wet, sloshy mud, because it was much easier to work with. Which of course brought us to the thought of how do birds go about making the mud?

By that time it was getting late, and although, thankfully, they had been so intent on the nest, that they really hadn't made any mess with their wet, sloshy mud, it was time to clean-up, for bed.

You can find more story based arts, and crafts for children at this week's stART (story + ART) link-up, at A Mommy's Adventures.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Bird Food Themed Snack

After seeing the chocolate "worms", on the National Wildlife Federation site, while checking out their nature checklist, and shark game, this morning, I knew I was going to have to make the children a bird feast snack, this afternoon.

I started with the worms (click the link above, for the recipe). I thought maybe one batch wouldn't be enough for six children because it only combines a few tablespoons of peanut butter, powdered milk, honey, and baker's cocoa, but it easily made 18, large worms.

Then, I added some sunflower seeds, and a few dried fruits, and berries.

The apple, is supposed to be a baby bunny (from The Manga Cookbook by Chihiro Hattori, though you can also find instructions for them, here, at Lunch in a Box), because you know - eagles, hawks, and owls have to eat, too.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Of Birds and Sharks - Interesting Links for Children

I've been searching high and low through cyberspace for the perfect printout to compliment a nature checklist-type notebook, I'd like to work on as a project, with the children. To begin with, I was looking some kind of bird watcher's checklist for our state, or even better, for our county (which I found at the U.S. Geological Survey site, here).

Then I found exactly what I was looking for, from the the National Wildlife Federation. It's a by state chart, with a list, including thumbnail pictures, of all the birds, mammals, insects, and such, to look for, with a little box, to check off, once you spot each animal. It's absolutely terrific - except, that when you click on the link to go to the PDF file, it won't come up - tragic really.

I'm hoping it's a temporary glitch, though. I'll let you know if I ever find it working. And, in the meantime, on the same site, I found a very fun, shark identification/word scramble game, that D (age 8) is going to flip over. If you have a young, shark enthusiast in your home, you might want to check it out, too.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rapunzel "Let Down Your Hair" Craft

We watched Disney's Tangled, this morning, and followed it up with a quick, Kathy Ross inspired Rapunzel craft from her Storytime Craft Book.

I printed out a picture of Disney's Rapunzel (I actually screen printed some Rapunzel stickers off of Amazon, so I could get the size of her head, I needed).

Then, I cut a window into an empty, plastic wrap tube, and notched the top, to make it look towerish. I would have had the girls help with this part, but the tube was really heavy duty, and hard to cut.

But, they were able to stick Rapunzel's head into the window, with clear tape.

And, to help with finger knitting yellow potholder loops, to make Rapunzel's braid. Ross suggests folding three long pieces of yarn in half, and then braiding them. That would probably be the better choice, because our braid ended up a little chunky for its purpose. But, we didn't have any yellow yarn on hand, and we did have the loops.

Once our braid was ready, we tied a piece of white yarn through the top...

...and threaded the other end through the window, so it came out the bottom of the tube, where we tied it to the loose end of our braid.

We pulled the braid back in, to hide it in the tube, until the girls called out, "Rapunzel, let down your hair." Then, by pulling the string one way, the braid came out, and down the tower, and by pulling it the other, it retreated through the window, again.

They tested it out a few times, decided it was hilariously funny, in the way only a four, and six year old can find things funny, and then went off to decorate the outside of the tower with their rainbow crayons.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Toilet Paper Tube Binoculars

With all the bird watching we've been doing, and are hoping to do, it seemed only natural to put together a pair of play binoculars for the the girls. Toilet paper tube binoculars are nothing new in our house, or probably in yours.

Generally, the children make their own by stapling together a couple of empty toilet paper tubes, and then decorating them with crayons. This time, I thought we'd see if we couldn't make a more realistic looking pair, for their pretend play. Meaning, that this is more of a Mommy done craft, though the girls did kick it off, by painting the tubes, inside and out, with black tempera paint for me.

When they were dry, or mostly dry, I glued strips of black fun foam around both ends, securing them first with rubber bands, and when that didn't work, with clothes pins, until they were dry.

On the top ends of the tubes, I punched a holes in the tubes, and the fun foam, opposite from where the fun foam seams would come together, for a cord to go through, later. You can see from the picture, that I got a little carried away with glue, and so things got messier than they needed to.

When the glue on the fun foam was dry, I glued the two tubes, seam side together, at the fun foam, again securing them with clothes pins, until they were dry.

While I was waiting for the glue to dry, I laced both ends of a piece of string long enough to drape easily around the girls' necks, into the two holes. Then, I tied knots in the ends, and secured them with clear tape.

Finally, I colored the top of black soda bottle caps black with a marker, and glued them to the top of each binocular, in case the girls might need to adjust their focus.

They're not exactly the same as Daddy's, but close enough, that hopefully, even though we have a couple of good pairs out, near windows, they won't end up being carted away for play time, when I'm not looking.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pop Bottle Bird Feeder

We made a pop bottle, or rather water bottle, bird feeder, to hang in the tree outside the kids' windows, this afternoon.

Following instructions from David Burnie's Bird Watcher...

...we removed the label from the bottle.

Then, we poked eight holes in, near the bottom, first with a thumb tack, then enlarged with a pencil - four holes lower, for wood dowel, sitting posts, and four holes slightly higher, and between the others, for food holes.

We poked two wood dowels through the lower holes.

Make one set of holes slightly higher than the others, so the dowels will cross, and not run into each other. If you don't have sturdy dowels (ours are actually the pushing sticks, that come with poly-fil), you can use pencils, instead.

Using a paper funnel, we filled the bottle with birdseed, making sure our feeding holes were larger than the seeds.

We, meaning the Man of the House, tied both ends of a piece of twine, about six inches long, securely, around the neck of the bottle...

...replaced the cap, and tied the feeder to a branch of the tree.
Now, hopefully, the children will be able to enjoy bird watching, right from the comforts of their own rooms, on these first, wintry, days of spring. It's great to be a homeschooler.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nesting Bag Craft

The younger girls spotted a new nest, in a nearby tree. There was quite a bit of excitement, as I'm sure you can imagine.

They wanted to give the mama bird something to make her nest soft, and warm, like the one in Constantine Georgiou's The Nest, that we read earlier in the week.

I remembered seeing a nesting bag, made by the gals over at the Frugal Family Fun Blog, last year. Actually, I had set aside a mesh fruit bag, with just that project in mind. So, I pulled it out, along with some various bits of fluff, yarn, strips of cloth, and hair. E (age 6), took the job of cleaning out the hairbrushes. Gross I know, but we read that birds love hair for their nests, because it's so soft, and we have plenty, so why not share?

The girls stuffed all their gifts into the bag...

...pulling bits out through the mesh, for the birds to grab.

Then, I tied it closed, and the Man of the House helped them slip it over the branch, of one of the trees, in the backyard...

...and to fill the bird feeder, to draw in our feathered friends.

I have to admit, I'm a little skeptical if we'll have any takers for our fluff. With the bits of fabric, and yarn moving in the wind, it looks more like something that should scare birds away, rather than invite them in. But, it will be interesting to watch, and see.

For more fun with science, check out this week's Science Sunday link-up over at Adventures in Mommydom.

It's great to be a homeschooler.