Notebooking

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.

Art Fair

The girls are working on some new miniature food pieces for the summer art fair. These are made from sculpey, a polymer clay that is baked in the oven and then glazed. The girls make food for their tiny creatures, and they’ve gotten to like the process so much that now they make it “in mass” to sell and share. Amie has set us a goal: 200 pieces by July 8th, the date of the first art fair. The pressure is on!

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: www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/TerritoryStudy.html)

A Single Shard

“A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park may have been one of my favorite homeschooling books we’ve read so far this year. The beauty and simplicity of the story and especially the integrity of the characters really captured my imagination. As the girls and I were talking about the orphan boy who works as an apprentice to a Korean master potter in the 13th century, we agreed that we will not be likely to forget Tree-ear and Crane-man.

Spring Picnic

The mice went out for an evening drive and came home with a carload of flowers. Then they had a picnic on the dinning room table. Sometimes I wish I could shrink myself down to their size and join them for a day . . .

Welcome, June

Here is our “wattle” house in progress — made from poplar tree trimmings, grape vines, and bittersweet vines. Jeffrey dug holes for the poplar trunks and sunk them in the ground about a foot deep. Then we all worked together to weave branches and vines in and out between the poplars, adding more as we are inspired. Our “haus” (as Wallace calls it) has become the perfect place for reading, playing, and popcorn eating!

We’re still debating about how to finish it off. Should we bend the tips of the poplars so that they meet at the top or leave the house open to the sky?

Treasures

When I was cleaning up the kitchen this morning, I got a little distracted by tiny treasures that accumulate in the corners. Instead of scrubbing, I ending up fiddling around and filling this printer’s drawer with our finds.

Painting with Petals

It was so exciting to receive our May print issue of Wild + Free and see our piece on “painting” with petals — just in time for all the spring blooms. We were inspired by Bridget Beth Collins (Flora Forager) last year to make pictures with plant parts, and I loved writing about the process. The girls notice so many intricate details now when we gather flowers, work in the garden, and explore outside. The diversity in color, texture, and shape in plant life is truly amazing.

(This print issue contains a sample of a longer piece in the May Wild + Free bundle on Kinship, which you can find on their website. Wild + Free was started by homeschooling mothers, but — as friends have pointed out — it’s not just for homeschooling families, but for anyone who loves to learn with children and explore the outdoors.)

Lake Michigan

Since we moved here six years ago, we’ve let the trees in front of our house grow and grow. (Our neighbors think we’re crazy and call our land “the jungle.” And, well, maybe we are a little crazy.) Finally, this spring, Jeffrey and I convinced the girls to let us trim just some of the tallest trees, so we can see the lake again! Lake Michigan.

As a compromise, we’re making a waddle house out of the poplar trees and branches that came down. It has been an ongoing family project and I can’t wait to share photos soon!