Bugs!

The highly anticipated Bugs! exhibit opened at the museum and we spent some time exploring it this morning before our nature walk. We were all very impressed.

Vinagaroon or Whip-tail Scorpion

Hercules Beetle

In one area they have a TV set up with a short documentary on the Mountain Pine Beetle and the devastation it is causing in our forests. Next to the television is a wood plank with visible beetle tunnels. I started to verbalize what the signs said and what the plank was there to show and Sweetie asked me to stop, “I know mom! I’m trying to learn. I can’t hear the guy on the TV when you are talking, Mom!” I could only apologize for distracting her and smile as I walked away.The most interesting message the exhibit delivered was how insects impact our lives – both beneficially and detrimentally.

Honeybees & a mannequin modeling beekeeper attire.Insects traveled the Oregon Trail as well.

A child’s bedroom – I’m certain Buddy would have loved to call this room his own.

4-H ~ Leaves

Today was the day of our first official 4-H Adventurers Club gathering. Our focus was on Leaves – one mom brought a leaf press. Remarkably, iIt presses and dries the leaves within minutes in the microwave. I was very impressed and of course want one of my own.

We started out with a couple of everybody books – I mistakenly returned the one I had wanted to read ( ) to the library so I had to go with an alternative. Sweetie was delighted with my selection, In the Leaves by Huy Youn Lee. It is basically about a young Chinese boy who introduces his friends to several Chinese characters (grain, fire, autumn, field, sprout, pig, family, mouth, harmony, and rice). It is a cute story but it did not focus on ‘leaves’ as much as I had hoped. We also read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert – more for the artistic leaf collages than for the text.After the stories, everyone gathered around the table I explained how to do the leaf prints. Everyone worked so well – there were no conflicts despite 13+ bodies around our small dining room table (seats 6). I was very impressed with how attentive the moms were – everyone chipped in and helped assure that everyone’s needs were addressed. I didn’t even have to wash the brushes or anything once everyone had departed – another mom had done so on my behalf while I worked on our last activity. I was surprised and delighted! Thank you!
The last activity involved a set of leaf cards that I had made years ago for my classroom. There must be 20+ different leaves represented. We worked together to learn how a dichtomous key is used for identification. The key vocabulary I emphasized was the difference between simple and compound leaves.

Before everyone departed, I announced the focus for November – Handcrafts. My vision is to have several stations set up so the kids can make several simple crafts as gifts for family & friends this upcoming holiday season. I encouraged the other moms to bring an activity. Based on the feedback I received already, I know it will be a fun afternoon.

Joyful Signing

I have been trying for months to get Buddy interested in an activity like Taekwondo, Soccer or Sign Language. Each time I ask if he would like to do Taekwondo with his sister he says, “No, I can’t. I not big enough.” I continually reassure him and try to encourage him to try but he always says no … his facial expression nearly kills me … he looks withdrawn and rejected. I ask him what he would like to learn and his response is, “Nothing. I not want to do anything. I want to play with trucks and cars.” I don’t want him to feel like all the classes we do are for his sister and not him. I feel so bad.

When he was two, we did a Parent-Toddler Creative Movement (dance) class and he seemed to like it okay. There were three other boys in this class but now that they are older, the boys have moved on to other activities. If he were to continue with Creative Movement (ballet/tap doesn’t begin until age 5 at this school), he would be the only boy. I’ve been a little frustrated with the school anyway.

The choreography has been basically the same every year and Sweetie (having had taken classes there since she were 3) is bored with dance. She has even asked if she could do just the recital and not the weekly classes. We’ve lightly considered another school but haven’t looked into much as she seems content to stick with Taekwondo. DH is insistent that the kids do just one activity and he is a little frustrated that she does Taekwondo and Mandarin Chinese. Urgh! I’ve hijacked my own post – I was talking about Buddy. This is a material for a completely different topic.

Anyway, we have had these Signing Time DVDs since Sweetie was an infant. We used Sign Language a lot before the kids were speaking, though we haven’t used it much since. In August, another homeschool family offered to teach a Sign Language class for homeschoolers. I signed Sweetie up immediately. When I spoke with the instructor, I got permission to stay in the room with Buddy but my assumption was that he wouldn’t be interested. When the opportunity to take Mandarin arose, I briefly considered dropping Sign Language due to the schedule conflict but opted to give it a try knowing we’d have to leave early.

In anticipation of the class, we borrowed some of the newer Signing Time DVDs from the library. When we watch the videos, Sweetie is always eager to sign along with Alex and Lea. Buddy, on the other hand, sits attentively and simply watches. We’ve tried to encourage him to sign too, but he always replies, “I can’t.” I feel bad for him but I always respond, “Yes, you can, Buddy. When you want to try, I’ll be waiting.”

Imagine my delight when earlier this week, he started signing tree, forest, candy, more, and please as we were going about our errands. He has also only recently been able to work his fingers to sign ‘I love you’.

So, yesterday was the first day of Sign Language class. As we left the house, as usual the kids started asking, “Where are we going first? What next?” I went through the plan with them and they were both excited to go to Sign Language. When we arrived at the church where the class is taught, Buddy started asking, “Sign Language my class? I take Sign Language?”

A light bulb went off in my head – “Yes! This is your class, Buddy. You get to learn Sign Language. We will be there to learn with you so we can practice at home, but this is your class. Sweetie is learning Chinese. You get to learn Sign Language.” I think he liked to hear this but just before class started, I think he got shy again when he saw all the other kids. He said he wasn’t going to say anything. I explained that in Sign Language you don’t use your mouth to talk. You use your hands. He wouldn’t need to say anything. He said he didn’t wan to do that either. I told him that we would stay in class and that Sweetie and I would sign. When he was ready, he could join in.

He didn’t sign at all during class. However, when Sweetie was in Chinese shortly thereafter, I got him to practice the ASL alphabet with me a little. Then, in Taekwondo, he started pointing out the letter ‘A’ but rather than point with his index finger as he has done in the past, he was signing the letter and gesturing in that direction. I responded with enthusiasm and we did letter ‘B’ and ‘C’ as well.

I think he is warming up to it. I suppose I just need to be a little more patient. He is more reserved than she was and I need to remember that. He’ll find his niche soon.

Jim Arnosky ~ Author Study

Without any advance planning or intentions on my part, I came across several books by Jim Arnosky that were set up on display at our library. It was a light-bulb moment and I immediately thought to myself, wouldn’t it be fun to read numerous books by the same author? Jim Arnosky is perhaps my favorite children’s book author ~ so he is the perfect author with which to begin.
The kids enjoyed his writing style and were even more impressed that he did all the illustrations as well. The titles we read were: Crinkleroot’s Guide to Animal Habitats, Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Trees, Following the Coast, Drawing from Nature and Freshwater Fish & Fishing.

Sweetie, was particularly interested in Freshwater Fish & Fishing due to her recent fly fishing experiences. We were also inspired by a recent post by Serendipity to print our own Crinkleroot friend to join us on our nature outings.

For more information about Arnosky, visit his website Jim Arnosky’s Nature Journal. You’ll find coloring sheets, fact sheets, video links, drawing lessons and Crinkleroot!