Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in wildlife (4)


Journal entry—orioles


Journal entry—waterfowl hike 

After their waterfowl hike yesterday, Calvin came home and wrote about the experience in his journal. I still think we maybe need to make him a nature journal, but for now it's all in one.

This one, obviously, is completely unedited. When we first started the journal last fall I helped him sound out all words and get them spelled correctly. Over time he gained confidence and proficiency, and a desire to shrug off all outside interference, and a couple of months ago he started writing the entries on his own. When he finishes I usually read them out loud to him, in part to enjoy them together, now that I'm not part of the process anymore, and also to help him catch any glaring phonetic errors. My goal is not for him to spell everything correctly, but for him to have a good grasp, over time, on the general rules. This one I didn't read until today, and it is clear to me that he has made a lot of wonderful progress all on his own. It's hard to say which came first and encouraged the other, the reading or the writing, more they were simultaneous and co-dependent, but I am so happy about both his progress, and how it has happened—not with lessons, or practice sheets or even with many easy readers, but mostly just with practice and use. As my dad always says, nobody told him he couldn't read, and nobody implied that it was a difficult process that required systematic help, either, and so he just did it.


Hiking with Crinkleroot

The temperatures had been hovering in the low teens for what seemed like weeks. It kept our outings limited to visiting other indoor locations or exploring only as far as the yard (which has hosted the Himalayas for equally as long so it's been a good place to explore, especially for my little Panda). We've been playing a lot of games, reading a lot of books, dabbling in  art, flying around the house performing magic; Winter hibernation doesn't have to mean boring.

Now, though, the sun has been out for days, for longer than it seems we've seen it all winter in fact. The Himalayas are starting to look more like the rolling landscape of Vermont and my Panda is increasingly disappointed by his habitat loss. The best thing about this weather, aside from the warm sun flooding our front room every evening and Jon getting home before dark, is the hiking situation: with compacted snow covering what will soon be muddy fields there are animal tracks to be found everywhere, and it's warm enough to go looking for them. There's rain lurking around the corner and with rain the opportunity will be lost, so, with Crinkleroot's Book of Animal Tracking tightly in tow, we took to the fields adjacent to our neighborhood and discovered far more than just our own hearts thankful for signs of thaw.

We've been tracking before. Calvin's pretty familiar with the tracks of humans, dogs, and deer. He found lots of deer tracks today.

A deer path through the stream.

And a new treat, raccoon tracks.

And we listened for birds.

We found chickadees (and heard all three calls)

And a tufted titmouse.

When we go home he was eager for some hot tea and a chance to get it all down in his journal.

Now we're ready for the rain threatening the rest of the week, and maybe for a return of the rain boots.

I've linked up to Nature Connections, a link party for nature lovers. Come join the fun!


Empty chrysalis syndrome

This is copied from the journal:

Our black swallowtails finally emerged and left. Having read that they remained as chryslids for only 8-10 days we had come to believe that they were planning to winter over with us, since they had gone into that state while we were still up at Walloon, 14, 15, and 18 days ago. We were surprised and excited, then, to find one of hte shells empty on Sunday afternoon. Having missed the take off of Larry, our first caterpillar turned black swallowtail, we were determined to keep a closer eye on Curly Parsley and Moe so as not to miss the great show. to give them more room we had tied their smaller sticks to longer ones and propped them in an open (never used) bird feeder on our deck table.

This morning we were finally rewarded. Right after eclosing the butterfly has a body distended with fluid and wings folded tightly against the body. They then pump the fluid out of their abdomen and into the veins of their wings to spread them open. These two eclosed probably 4-5 minutes apart, although we missed Moe (on the right) emerging. This picture was taken at 8:48am.

Just four minutes later at 8:52 Curley Parsley (on the left) has significantly altered his appearance. The chrysalis is still there on the stick. Notice that it is no longer dark in color now that the black butterfly is out.

A closer look at Moe so you can see the veins running through her wings. Curly Parsley and Moe were both females, a specific that can be determined by the spot formation on their wings—big yellow spots on the male, smaller yellow spots on the female.

Here is Moe stretching out her proboscis, making sure she's ready to get nectar from the plants she finds.

Stretching and sunning. This was right before Moe took off. Curly Parsley (on the right here) wasn't that far behind time wise, but she stuck around for another 30 minutes.

This is pobably best chance we've ever had, and probably will ever have, to take such a close look at a butterfly.

And just two final shots of Curly Parsley before she took off to look for nectar plants and a mate. Good luck Curly.