Science

Pileated Woodpecker

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We saw this little guy climbing on the electric pole right in front of our house. We identified him as a woodpecker and confirmed he was a Pileated Woodpecker using our Animal Encyclopedia.

We learned that woodpeckers eat insects, fruit, and nuts. They even peck for insects in dead wood, as we got to witness first hand.

We watched the red head bounce up and down the pole. The kids seemed especially fascinated with how well he climbed.

The reason they can climb so well is their zygodactyl feet. With four toes, the first and fourth point backward and the second and third point forward. The grip is strong enough to allow them to vertically walk up tree trunks.

I didn’t learn until later that a woodchuck is actually a groundhog, but I went ahead and teased the boys with the following tongue twister. They thought it was funny, but didn’t attempt to say it.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck all the wood that a woodchuck could chuck if he could chuck wood. 

Now I want to go to the library and check out Peck, Peck, Peck which is an adorable and funny story about a baby woodpecker learning to peck.

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Health, Parenting, play, Science

Hard Hat Harry

“Mommy, please, please, please, please, can I watch more Hard Hat Harry?” says my 3-year-old in a pleading whisper.

We have a new obsession in our house here, and it is known as Hard Hat Harry. I have been a little more lax with the television time while I am suffering from the First Trimester Troubles but I still had to tell him “no” as gently as I could. We discussed it back and forth and he finally acquiesced and laid down for a nap when I said “Studies have shown that children learn more from interactive play than they do from television.” I don’t know 100% if that’s the truth but I believed it when I said it.

Television shows like Hard Hat Harry make me question such a statement, because I feel like I learn something new every time I watch them. I don’t believe I learn something new every time I play with magnet tiles. Although, I imagine the standards of learning are slightly different for an adult and a 3-year-old child still exploring the world.

Some things I have learned from our new favorite show:

  1. Airplanes are SUCKED into the sky! The way the air flows over the wings creates a suction effect that lifts the airplanes into the sky.
  2. There is a kind of truck that carries its own bridge on its back. It lays out the bridge, drives over, and picks it up again!
  3. An Orange tree grows an average of 1,500 oranges in one growing season!
  4. Nuts are harvested by a machine called a Tree Shaker. It literally shakes the tree so all the ripe nuts fall off and then sucks them up like a vacuum.

Hard Hat Harry was filmed in the mid 90’s, so the picture quality might not be what you are used to, but he is a genie that takes a detailed look at many of the topics our kids are fascinated with.

Yesterday when Mr. 3 was asking to watch more Hard Hat Harry, I told him that our bodies needed to be engaged in order to stay strong and grow. Later he said, “I’ve been playing really hard! Can I watch Hard Hat Harry now?”

What are your favorite educational TV shows? How long do you let your kids watch? 

Science

Nature’s favorite building blocks are…

Quarks!

When I think of “Quark” I think of the creamy sauce my mother makes using (I only guess here) sour cream, dill, chives, garlic, and parsley. She used to serve it with boiled potatoes. I would consider doing the same myself, as I remember it being delicious, but my husband has put his foot down about serving potatoes too many times a week, and therefore I don’t have enough of an excuse to dress them up. He wouldn’t eat it anyways. *grumbles about picky eaters*

If you were thinking the answer to the question “What is nature’s basic building block?” was ATOMS, you, my friend, are sadly outdated. Apparently, nature now builds with Quarks which stick together to form Atoms. Actually, I think nature has always built with Quarks, but we just didn’t have the knowledge or a cute little name to call them. Now we know!

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This book, Baby Loves Quarks!, has explained the concept to me in a way I can understand. It has super cute and colorful pictures and simple sentences that even I can understand the concept. It also expands outward and explains protons, neutrons, atoms, and elements. I highly recommend this as a fun read for both parents and baby geniuses. (My normal children seemed to enjoy it too.)

My FAVORITE science joke EVER is:

Two atoms are sitting in a bar. The first turns to the second and says, “I think I lost an electron!”

The second atom asks, “are you sure?”

The first atom replies, “I’m positive!!”

Teeheheeehahahahaha. I love that.

I was trying to write my own joke for this post, but the best I could come up with is:

What are ducks made out of? Quarks! (….because it sounds like Quack. I’ll show myself out now.)

Projects, Science

Fruit Fly Trap

I love these Take and Toss cups. They are so versatile and despite the fact that they are cheap ($3 for 4 cups!) they hold up really well. I use mine for both my 1-year-old and 3-year-old. They are great for smoothies because they have wonderfully thick straws, but we also use them for water and chocolate milk. I even saw a mom use them as snack cups once, and I can see myself doing that too.

My latest use for them has been to make a fruit fly trap.

Do you have fruit flies? They lay eggs on your fruit and then buzz around obnoxiously getting on everything, and it’s really hard to get rid of them.

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Basically, you fill the cup 1/3 or half way with left over fruit. If you have a young child, I am sure you have plenty of left over food or banana that has “fallen” to the floor. (My 1-year-old lately just chews on apple and spits it out. I cannot figure out why he won’t swallow it. Even if I cut off the skin he does the same thing. But he always REALLY wants apples…)

Put the lid on the cup, then place a piece of tape over the straw hole. Use a knife to cut a small slit in the tape. (These Washi tapes are too cute! They can be used for innumerable art projects and gift wrapping, too.)

The hole should be big enough for them to crawl in but not big enough for them to easily find their way out. According to WikiHow, who first taught me about making fruit fly traps with old bottles and a paper funnel, the fruit flies are too dumb to find their way back out when the opening is small.

After a few days pour warm soapy water into the cup until all the flies have drowned. Then rinse and repeat.

This has really cut down on the number of fruit flies in our kitchen. They even choose the cup over hovering around the normal fruit bowl.

Continue reading “Fruit Fly Trap”

Adventures, History, Science

Cancelled Plans – It’s Okay

Well, we were GOING to go to Tug Boat Story Time aboard the historic Arthur Foss, but apparently the 200 year old tug boat needed repairs. Still, we have visited the story time a few times in the past and it has most often been very engaging and lots of fun. If you have littles in the Seattle area, I would encourage you to check it out.

Well we had already parked the car before we found out about the cancellation, but we didn’t cry and pout. We walked around and looked at the other boats at the Museum for Wooden Boats. We discovered that the whole South Lake Union park was a large construction site, and the monkeys just ran around and climbed on things.

Honestly, sometimes I forget how little these kids need in order to be entertained. The world is a beautiful playground!

Did You Know that we didn’t make paper from wood fibre until 1885? And the first Western Mill to do so was in Washington on the North Bank of the Columbia River, mashing the wood to pulp with big stone wheels like the one pictured above.

This stone was in front of the Museum of History and Innovation. In case you were wondering what paper mills had to do with boats, its really just that these museums are right next to each other.

Well, we had a good time, and after some coaxing and cajoling, I finally got the 3 year old to take a nap. The one year old was asleep before we even made it back onto the highway.


This morning, Mr. 3 asked me where glass comes from. I found an interesting and short video on YouTube that explained the process of turning Sand into glass using heat. They use Soda Ash and Limestone to lower the temperature at which the sand melts, but it still takes a hot hot hot 3090 degrees Fahrenheit. They pour the molten glass over melted tin to get it to cool flat into giant panes of glass that are later cut down to size. The glass and tin have a water and oil relationship and the glass hardens much sooner than tin because tin has a much lower melting point.

Really fascinating.

Mr. 3 also asked me if horses have boogers, but I have not researched that. My guess is that, yes, they do have boogers.

What have your kids asked you lately that’s made you think?

Projects, Science

Clown Fish

Has it been 2 months since I let my children watch their first movie? We watched Finding Nemo over a period of two days, and he now has a few moments of obsession.

He named his dump truck “Nemo” and the front loader is “Nemo’s Dad”.

Today he took it a step further because he saw that the picture on our Big Ocean book is a Clown Fish. He asked me to read him the section on clownfish a few times, and we also looked in our Animal Encyclopedia for additional information.

For a child that is hard to understand, he is REALLY good at pronouncing Anemone.

– Clown Fish live in anemones. They secret an oil that protects them from the anemone stings. They lure food into the anemone and the anemone protects them from larger predators… like that nasty shark in the movie. This is called a symbiotic relationship.

– Clown Fish can lay 400 to 1,500 eggs at one time.

Mr. 3 asked if we could get a fish tank and fill it with clown fish. We talked about how much work and responsibility would be required with that. However, I was inspired by my child’s interest to make our own clown fish!


You will need pipe cleaners, construction paper, scissors, pencil. The glue and stick are optional, depending on how your child wants to play with the fish.

1. Draw and cut out your fish. Glue to a stick if you want to.

2. Fold a bunch of pipe cleaners in half  and loop one of them around the bunch to hold it together. Bend and spread the pipe cleaners as desired.

3. Have a heart attack when your 3-year-old insists on using the kitchen shears to practice cutting.

 

Math, Projects, Science

Cooking with Kids – Pizza

I believe I mentioned before that letting your children help out in the kitchen, while hard on your counters and floors, is beneficial for them in multiple ways.

Pizza is a great way to let them help out. They can do it all (make the dough, roll it out, put on toppings) or just help with the toppings.

I use the American Test Kitchen pizza dough recipe, it makes a small pizza so I normally double it. I let my 3-year-old help dump the measuring spoons, help me count scoops, and press the buttons on the processor.

Combine 1 cup BREAD flour, 2/3 tsp instant yeast, a little salt. Add 1 tbsp oil and then slowly add up to 7 or 8 tbsp of water until it forms a ball and is no longer sticking to processor. (By slowly, I meant you should run the processor every few scoops to see how it’s mixing.) Take it out and knead it a bit and form a ball. Let it rise in a covered bowl for an hour and then roll out and add toppings. I bake mine at 375(F) for 10 minutes, or until all the cheese is nice and gooey and the crust is starting to turn golden. You may need to change the cooking time and temperature based on your toppings.

It’s easy, it’s delicious, and it is fun! Let your kids in on the joy of cooking. They may even want to help wipe down the counter when they are done. (Mine did not, they wanted to eat the rest of the shredded cheese, resulting in my having to vacuum when the 1-year-old started dropping cheese everywhere.)

Adventures, Math, Science

Garbage Trucks and Sensory Bin Experience

If you’ve been following my instagram, you may have noticed that my kids love garbage trucks. If they hear one coming, they drop everything and run to the window.

Today, we finally did what I have been meaning to do, I took them to the dump! (According to all the signs, it is called a Transfer Station.)

I told Mr. 3 we were going to go and he put on his big  Blippi persona and was so excited that he even went potty without resistance. 

We arrived at the North Transfer Station at about 10:45 and went straight to the special public viewing area. We were there for nearly 2 hours, with only a quick potty break.

Mr.1 ran back and forth from window to window to watch the trucks dump and then be weighed and leave. Mr. 3 nearly drooled on the window when they brought out the monster front loader.

I promised them that we could come back because we didn’t even make it to the playground. I want to find out if they have a recycling sorting facility, because Mr. 3 loves the part in the Blippi show where they sort the recycling. 

They fell asleep in the car ride home; Mr. 1 right away and Mr. 3 shortly after getting a super cool side view of the I-5 bridge. I took this opportunity to calm my hungry stomach with some Starbucks and get the kiddos an easy lunch. For 5.45 you can get 1/2 pbj sandwich, cucumbers, carrots, cheese stick, apple slices, and chocolate covered raisins. Yum. I don’t buy them lunch often, but this one makes me feel good.  

After lunch, Mr. 1 dragged the big plastic box inside. I decided this meant he wanted to play with water. He loves bubbles so I added some dish detergent, and put the box on the patio. This kept the boys busy for nearly another hour. 

I definitely recommend checking to see if you have a local Transfer Station because it was a lot of fun!

By the way, did you know that the large garbage trucks weigh 64,000 pounds WITHOUT garbage? The more common medium size ones we saw today were about 34,000 pounds.

Daily Lessons, Science

Busy Bees

Hello! We have been busy here, doing nothing and everything. Here are some things that I think I know, gleaned from our everyday activities:

A helicopter weighs 10,000 pounds, or approximately 4 school buses! (I overheard this on Mr. 3’s Blippi show. Although Mr. 3 told me it was 1,000, but that doesn’t seem like enough. He does not yet understand the difference for such big numbers.)

A dandelion, with its jagged leaves and yellow flowers, has no business in a strawberry bed! This caused my strawberries to be teeny tiny and very few. When my friend pointed it out, I pulled it out right away and since then the strawberries have been proliferous.

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The kids love going to the garden each morning to help me water and see what they can eat. Mr. 3 and Mr. 1 worked together today to water the apple tree which is across a small creek and takes careful aim to water. Mr. 1 may have gotten sprayed in the side of the face. Mr. 3 then pointed out the bright green leaves as meaning the “apple tree is growing SOO much!”.

Side benefit of having playdates is that your friend can teach your things about your own garden/house or anything, because everyone’s knowledge base is different.

There are 6 different breeds of Giraffe, whose noises cannot generally be heard by human ears.

A difference between a Crocodile and and Alligator is that the teeth stick out of the mouth of the Crocodile. The snout on an crocodile is longer and narrows more to a point. As my husband likes to say the Alligator mouth is “all short like”.

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I hate to jinx it, but Mr. 3 is devoting a lot of energy to being Blippi, from his favorite television show. And he’s “not a baby Blippi, a BIG Blippi”. My favorite thing about this is the fact that he is wearing underwear today and so far has kept it clean and dry. He went to the potty 3 times yesterday, and 4 the day before. I’m trying not to get too excited, but I think he’s finally ready! I will gladly look at imaginary snow chains on the imaginary garbage truck 47 times a day for this. It’s definitely worth it.

Some other things we have been working on that I may share with you later include, keeping a daily homeschool log, and my husband trying out a new work schedule in order to give me a break.

I have been reminded that parenting can be really, really, hard, but it is a beautiful thing to watch your children grow and learn.

 

 

 

Adventures, Health, Science

Imagination and Curiosity

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Imagination and curiosity are two traits I admire and value. I love to see my children grow more confident and detailed in their games. I also love when my children ask questions about things that they are interested in.

My 3-year-old has recently developed a really goofy giggle and he will ask me a question such as, “Do baby dogs come from the MAMA dog or the DADA dog? Heeeheheh”

Curiosity

There are two books from the library that have really inspired the 3-year-old. Especially when he is trying to delay nap time, he will ask me questions upon questions, upon questions. 2017-07-12_14-10-16_959

The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss. I borrowed this book because it is not always easy getting my children to brush their teeth. This book has some examples of why we need teeth and what we shouldn’t do with our teeth. It’s not terribly educational, but is rhyming and fun.

This book has inspired such questions such as, “why do beavers chew on trees?” and, “Do they really chew the trees down?” And after discussing beavers and their dental issues, “Do our teeth keep growing and growing? Do we need to go to the dentist to cut our teeth shorter?”

It’s NOT the Stork by Robie H. Harris. We’ve been trying for baby #3 and my 3 year old has had a lot of questions about babies and where they come from. This book is geared toward children 4 years and older, but I thought we would try it out. It’s a very straightforward but detailed book about “Girls, Boys, Babies, Families, and Friends”. I felt a little shy reading this to my 3-year-old, but he kept wanting to read more and more.

Now he asks me questions such as, “Does M- have a penis or a vagina?” “Where do baby giraffes come from?” “Does the daddy giraffe put sperm inside the mommy giraffe’s eggs?” “Why are dogs not people?” “Where do baby dogs come from?”

I had to try really hard not to laugh when he asked me if I went to the toilet and dropped him into it when he was born. I explained that generally people go to a clean hospital, and that I had to have a cesarean to have him and his brother. I explained the process and showed him my scar. Then he asked about his brother. Then he asked me if giraffes go to the giraffe hospital to give birth.

The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington recently announced the birth of  baby giraffe there. We haven’t seen it, but I’m starting to suspect that he’s interested.

Imagination

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I think a lot of us are familiar with the long list of benefits of children growing up with pets.

1. Having a friend.

2. Building a child’s confidence

3. Teaching them empathy and responsibility

4. Exposing them to allergens and dust early can reduce the numbers and intensity of allergies that the children may develop.

Parent magazine has a great article about this. Yet, there is a benefit that isn’t mentioned in the article, and this is fueling the child’s imagination. My children spend a significant amount of time playing at being dogs. They like to climb into the crate, run around barking at delivery people, rolling on the floor, and just generally do what little puppies do (except sleep all day long, unfortunately).

2017-07-09_10-39-10_320Sometimes this imaginative play takes place in public areas. The dog park was especially fun for the 16 month old. You can see him rolling around on the rocky floor when I pointed out that our dog was getting tired and was laying down.

I took him to Magnusson Dog Park north of Seattle because this is the biggest and coolest dog park for the northern suburbs. It is enormous, has a beach, shaded areas, open field, little dog area, walking trail, wooden bridges. Also there is a playground next to the parking lot, which is where daddy and Mr. 3 spent their time.

Mr. 1 loved walking over the wooden bridges, and throwing rocks, and most of all 2017-07-09_10-47-29_473meeting all the variety of dogs. Big ones, small ones, brown, white, black, spotted, golden, shy, loving, playful, quiet, and loud dogs.

If you haven’t taken your child to a dog park, I would put it on your to do list. There is so much to see and talk about. You may need to give them a bath later, but it is well worth the mess.

What inspires the kids in your life to use their imaginations in play?