Working on covers.
Sitting together
during precious nap time minutes.
Listening to “The Mouse and the Motorcycle.”
Watching a robin flit back and forth.
Admiring clouds.
Noticing that it’s easier for me to sketch things close up.

Robin Mapping

It started with a question: how much territory does a pair of nesting robins like to have?

We came across the following information, and today Amabel started making robin map!

“Somewhere out there, a robin ‘calls’ your backyard its home territory. A robin’s territory — the place where mating and nesting occurs — is usually less than half an acre. Territories often overlap, perhaps because of the feeding grounds that neighboring robins share. If you think robins are everywhere, you’re probably right!

Robin Squabble Story

One summer a Minnesota woman had a pair of robins nesting in her backyard. A pair of robins also nested next door on one side of the yard and yet another nested on the other side of the yard. A fourth pair of robins nested in the yard behind hers. After a few territorial squabbles, the robins pretty much kept to their own yards for feeding. But this woman had the only birdbath on the block, so two of the neighboring pairs of robins started sneaking into her yard for drinks and baths. At first, the male and female robins who “owned” that territory spent a lot of time chasing the intruders away.

But when the female started incubating her eggs, she stopped chasing off the other females. The male chased off the other males until the babies hatched. Then he had to spend so much time searching for food for his nestlings that he stopped chasing off the other robins — unless they started exploring beyond the bird bath. As long as the neighbors flew directly to the birdbath along the shortest possible line from their territory, he left them alone. But if they veered off that path for just a few seconds, he charged the birds!

For several weeks, the woman observed where each robin spent the majority of its time. She noted where each robin could range and be ignored by the others, and where each was when disputes took place. This information gave her a clear picture of each robin’s territory. She could have drawn a simple map with each territory outlined.

Activity: Map A Robin’s Territory

Observe your own robins and see if you can map their territories! Here’s how:

Begin by drawing a map of a small part of your neighborhood. Mark in the trees, bushes, houses, fences, and other things that robins might notice. Mark any robin nests you find.

Use this map to study the robins in your neighborhood for a week or two. Give each robin a letter, number, or symbol. See if you can start to recognize different individuals and notice where each spends its time.

Mark a bird’s letter, number or symbol in the right spot on your map every time you see that bird. Do the robins spend more time in some areas than others? Can you draw territorial boundaries on your map based on where the various robins spend their time?”

(All information from:

April Joys

I never grow tired of this scene! Give little Wallace a screwdriver and a few rocks and he will entertain himself while the girls and I plant seedlings.

Right now we’re still bringing the baby plants inside at night, but during the day, it is a perfect plant nursery and toddler playpen.

Welcome Spring!

The first day of spring was one of those days I dreamt about in the depths of winter — a day that began with an adventure outside. We set off on a new route and discovered an ancient apple orchard within easy walking distance of our home. I could hardly believe that in nearly six years of living here we hadn’t yet found it! It was truly a magical way to begin spring.

Greenhouse math. How many onions do we use a year? Five a week? How many should we plant to last us 30 weeks? We have three varieties. If we put two seeds in each soil block, how many seeds of each variety will we need?  Making soil blocks, planting seeds, labeling trays — these girls are doing it all.

First spring nature journaling! Nothing is blooming yet, but we brought home a lot of buds to examine: ornamental pear, pussy willow, ancient apple, and red-twig dogwood. We also found some delicate lichen growing in little vibrant green patches. Then we learned that lichen is spelled the same way in both French and English. We do most of our nature journal notes en francais as part of our language study.

If you look out the window today, everything looks gray.  If you go outside and look a bit closer, you can find an incredible spectrum of colors and textures tucked into corners of the spring earth.

47 :: Mr. Busy

It is quite a day. Not yet 10 am and Wallace is rapidly deconstructing the house. He has tossed a mug on the floor (smashed), attempted to feed the cat (bowl, crashed), and now he has climbed up into a chair next to Ellen and put his fingers in paint for the third or forth time. Oh, and I have mopped up a couple of puddles (he is an ec baby and frequently diaper free) while trying not to trip over the entire contents of my kitchen cupboards spread about the floor. Mr. busy man is keeping us on our toes! A friend remarked yesterday that it looks like we are doing pretty serious homeschooling. I had to laugh. This is what “pretty serious” looks like around here!

289 :: Nature Journaling


It took us a few weeks — journaling once a week or so — to settle into this practice.
And now if we neglect our nature journals, it feels like something is missing from our week.

I love returning to these pages,
centering and coming back to this place,
this notebook,
a book that reveals something different each time
we visit.

Uncovering layers.
Seeing more.
Watching the seasons unfold.