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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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 was ATOMS, you, my friend, are sadly outdated.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.)

Daily Lessons, Language

I want to be a Contractor when I grow up. What does a Contractor wear?

My 3-year-old is all about putting on a costume to assume a new persona. Although he doesn’t have a costume for his “Snowflake the Horse” personality. Or his “concrete mixer” personality which he has been using most of the last few days. He likes to argue too, “I can’t wash my hands, I have WHEELS.” or “I can’t go in the potty, HORSES pee on the GRASS”.

Well, it’s been interesting at home the last few days because we have a contractor who is tearing down our old deck and building us a beautiful giant new deck. Monday they tore down the existing deck, and both kids just watched the process almost entirely without distraction.

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Yesterday they dug giant holes in the yard where they will be putting the support beams. I wonder if there is a proper name for that? I almost wish the contractor would talk to them every morning and explain to them what he’s doing!

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It is just INCREDIBLE how much dirt comes out of those holes.

Having a contractor do work around your house is expensive, but there is an added benefit that your kids will probably be fascinated by them. Yesterday was the most productive day I had in 3 years. I vacuumed the entire upstairs, cleaned the bathtub, laundry, dishes, scraped the stove (this took a long time since it hadn’t been done in months) and more.

How is it that a day later all those things need doing again?

The contractor is now waiting on inspection so I have to entertain my kids myself today.

Mr. 1 is learning so much lately, and is really trying to become his own independent person. He no longer wants to be picked up and set down in his high chair or car seat. He has to climb and try to buckle himself in. This can take a lot of time and frustration. But he’s also trying to jump and get his feet off the floor, and he’s saying more words out loud. Today’s new word was “Throw” which he saw in his favorite book, My World, My Words.

Honestly, though, it is hard to say what their favorite books are because they read SO much. Take a look at the right column in my home school journal. Those are the books we read over those few days and probably doesn’t even include the books my husband reads to them during “Mommy time”.

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My own personal favorite kids book right now is the Gobble Gobble Mooooo Tractor Book. It has such cute pictures and is a lot of fun to read. It is about some farm animals that are pretending to drive the tractor and make their interpretations of all the necessary noises.

 

Daily Lessons

A Pre [Home] School Week in Review

What did we do?

We tried to spend a significant amount of time outside, since the weather was so beautiful. We took the stroller to the library (over 1.5 miles both ways) and stopped at the playground on the way home. We played on the trampoline and fertilized my garden. We  harvested some green beans and one beautiful carrot. [My favorite is the thyme plant, there isn’t much of it but one tiny leaf has such an amazing smell and flavor.]

2017-06-09_16-22-25_563Mostly the kids played in the sandbox. The picture above shows my two minutes in paradise; getting to read while the children play together.

All of these things help the kids practice their gross motor skills such as walking, running, and jumping. Their fine motor skills were active in learning how to pick the green beans without pulling the entire plant out of the earth. Their senses were engaged in sand box play, making goop, painting [on] the patio.

When we went to the aquarium this weekend, our one big excursion, they spent most of their time at the outdoor harbor seal enclosure. It is surrounded by large stadium style benches and both boys enjoyed walking along the benches and practicing going up and down the stairs. The 3-year-old practiced jumping down and up the stairs, and jumping off of the benches. Then the show started and we watched the trainers work with the seals. (Fact: Harbor seals can hold their breath for 30 minutes!)

What did we learn?

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what the children are learning at any given moment, but they are always learning. Whether it is practicing a skill that is new to them or expanding one they already have. Here are some things that really stood out to me for my kids:

Mr 3: Jumping. He’s been jumping off and on to everything. Today he was seeing how far he could jump on his racetrack carpet. If he isn’t jumping, he’s galloping.

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Mr. 3 is also improving his tolerance for his brother. We are seeing more moments where they get along and can play together. Mr.3 is also saying things like, “What’s wrong, my friend M—?” when his little brother is crying. There is still some pushing and crying when 3 gets tired, but I do think it is getting better.

Mr. 1 – He is into everything. He spends a lot of time opening and closing the screen door. He also spent nearly an hour with a bottle of bubbles, putting the plunger in and trying to blow the bubbles. He wasn’t successful with the blowing, but he was very interested until he accidentally spilled the whole bottle on the patio.

Mr. 1 is also starting to combine words. He was saying “Hi Dada” when they went on a dog walk together.

Me: I’m learning that if I go too far out of my comfort zone, then I get easily stressed out and start feeling bad about myself again. It’s all well and good to try to be a perfect parent, but if I don’t make small changes then I am setting myself up for failure. We briefly tried no screen time limits and no bed time and it was a nightmare.

I want my kids to be respected and listen to their bodies and tell me what they need, but it’s not a skill that can be learned in two days, but I can’t stay up until 10:30 every night with the 3-year-old.

I have a theory that Mr. 3 most likely doesn’t like going to bed because he doesn’t want to be alone. So we are getting him a big bed so that someone can lay down with him. Usually if say, “I’m tired, will you lay down with me?” he will join us very eagerly.

What did we read?

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We have some really AMAZING library books this time! I’m going to limit myself to telling you about 5.

Cars Go by Steve Light – Just simple pictures of cars and onomatopoeia of the sounds they make. Mr. 1 will follow you around the house with this one until you read it at least 3 times. (Amazon – for more info)

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin – I’ve seen a lot of reviews for this book lately because the sequel just came out, but I’m honestly not that big of a fan of it. Unfortunately, my 3 old always wants to read it when he goes potty. It’s an okay story about how dragons love tacos, and parties, and taco parties.  (Amazon – for more info)

Hooray for Birds by Lucy Cousins – from the creator of Maisy Mouse.. this beautiful and bright book asks you to pretend to be a bird for one day and then takes you through different bird actions from sunrise to sunset. I think it’s adorable, and my 1-year-old really loves the pictures. (Amazon – for more info)

Doctor Ted by Andrea Beaty – This is a cute story about a little bear who pretends to be a doctor. This inspired my 3-year-old to play paramedic with me for a long time. I would fall down and cry for help and he would race over in his truck and then try to tie a ribbon “bandage” around my hurt area. We got to practice body parts, work our imaginations, and try tying knots. Plus, we practiced “calling” 911. (Amazon – for more info)

Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood – This is a book about an owl who stays up all day and discovers all the colors around her that she normally doesn’t get to see. It’s a really pretty book and is fun to read. Both of the kids enjoyed this one and have asked for it repeatedly. (Amazon – for more info)

In Conclusion –

We had a great week and hope you did too!

(My week was extra awesome because we had two date nights! For our 4 year aniversary we went indoor sky-diving which was awesome! And then on the weekend we played tennis for two hours and then had lunch after. I’m so happy I could burst. Last night Mr. 3 was being super silly. He keps saying “I’m the babysitter” and then laughing maniacally.)

 

History, Science

Trains, Trains, Trains

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do in the morning?

Three: Play with TRAINS!

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do… in the afternoon?

Three: Play with TRAINS!

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do in the evening?

Three: Read a book… and play with trains!

Does that sound familiar to you? Is your child obsessed with particularly fond of trains?

We check out a great deal of train books at the library, and he was lucky enough to receive a train table and train set from his Oma for Christmas. (That’s german for “Grandma”).

Whoo whoo

The latest train book we have read is Whoo! Whoo! Goes the Train by Anne F. Rockwell. We have read a lot of train books, but I have never seen the word Semaphore before. Also, this book is full of bright pictures and has special emphasis on identifying colors. Mr. 3 and Mr. 1 both really like it and want to read it again and again.  (Amazon)

Semaphore: One of the earliest forms of fixed railway signal is the semaphore. These signals display their different indications to train drivers by changing the angle of inclination of a pivoted ‘arm’. [Wikipedia]

Basically, the trains use it to send messages like “Stop”, “Caution”, or “Clear”. Apparently it’s been around since the 1840’s and hasn’t even changed too much over the years.

Steam TrainOne of my personal favorite train books is Steam Train Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker. The reason I like this one, is not only does it rhyme, but it names all the different types of freight train cars. Now if we see a big freight train go by, I can remind the kids what they are called. (Amazon)

 

Autorack – I have never seen one of these, but that would be awesome! They are used like an auto carrier/car transporter.

Box Car – General purpose – I think these are the most common

Flatbed Car – Just like a flatbed truck… it’s flat and used to carry large things.

Freezer Car – Used to store cold goods

Tanker Car – Used for transporting liquids and gas, such as oil and gas.

Well Car – This sits a little lower than the traditional flatbed car and allows for double stacking shipping containers.

Gondola Car – A train car that has short walls but is open on the top, it can carry loose items.

It has been a while since I read that book, so I might be missing a few from the list, but it is very interesting.

Now I’m going to reward your continued reading with some interesting facts about trains. Links to original source are included.

  • The first railways in Great Britain were made between 1603 and 1604 as a simple “wagonway”. Modern railways came in the 1800s. (Source)
  • The U.S. embraced four time zones only after trains enabled fast travel across the continent. (Source) They are not to be blamed for day light savings time, though.
  • The word “train” dates back to the 14th century. Its original meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was: “Treachery, guile, deceit, trickery; prevarication.” (Source)
  • Ore trains in Sweden traveling down to the coast generate five times the amount of electricity they use, powering nearby towns and the return trip for other trains. (Source)
  • You can ride the Hogwart’s Express (movie version) in Scotland, although they do not call it that there. (Source)

Hopefully you have some new train facts to share with your kids.

Feel free to share your favorite train fact or train book below in the comments!