Bugs, Birds, and Butterflies for Dinner, Oh My!





Our dinner to go along with "The Salamander Room" was a lot of fun.  I was inspired by the Five In a Row Cookbook that suggested a "nature themed meal", and while their recipes were good, I wanted a REALLY nature themed meal.  So here's what was on the menu.
First up was our fruit and veggie butterfly, inspired by the Friend's February Kitchen Craft.
We also had tomato lady bugs with chive antennae on cheese and crackers, also inspired by the Friend's Kitchen Crafts.
Of course a nature inspired meal wouldn't be complete without ants on a log, and since Brian brought mushrooms into his room for the salamander to play on, we added some to our spinach salad.  My father in-law also made some amazing sauteed mushrooms!  
My sweet mother in-law helped me adapt the directions in this month's Wild Animal Baby to make these adorable Robin Redbreast sandwiches.  We didn't toast ours, and they were still delicious.
We finished our meal off with some Banana Slug Splits.  These are SO simple, and SO yummy, they are one of my children's favorite snacks.

We also had a delicious rainbow fruit pizza, that I realized I didn't get any pictures of until it was completely gone.  You can kind of see it in the top picture, all the way at the top end of the pizza.  Of course, we all know that I like to adapt recipes, and this was no different, so we used kiwi instead of green grapes, and because I didn't have any cream cheese, I kept the fruit on with a little of our home made yogurt sweetened with some honey and vanilla.  It was completely gone about 10 minutes after the first slice was cut!

Obviously none of our dinner required great culinary skill, but made all together it took some time to put it together.  I definitely wouldn't have ventured to try to do it all without additional adult assistance, but it was a fun way to end our "row" and to make some special memories. 


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Project Completion!!

A few months ago I came across this FABULOUS tutorial on making a crayon roll.  What a perfect way to keep all of the crayons in order in our church bag.  (You know, the bag of things to keep the children quiet and listening.)  I wanted to make one... No I wanted to make three, because then there would be no arguing about whose crayon is whose. 

Well, last night I finally finished making them for my little ones, and I'm so excited! 
I had originally planned on making these to have ready for Christmas, but Christmas, got away from me, and so did my children's birthdays, so I decided Easter would be a good time to have them finished.  Thank goodness I finally met my own deadline.  :)

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a very fearful sewer.  My confidence has grown over the last year, but any time I start a sewing project I'm sure it's going end terribly.  I tell you this in case you are in some way overly impressed with my ability to make these.  They are really very simple, and Montserrat's tutorial is great.  Don't be afraid or intimidated, this is a perfect simple project that you and your children will love!

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Week In Review: The Salamander Room

Grandma and Grandpa came down last weekend, and we were so busy having fun, that I forgot all about blogging, so here's our week in review, just a few days behind schedule.  :)

The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer is a sweet story about a little boy, named Brian, who brings home a salamander from the forest and his attempt to make the salamander comfortable there.  This book was the perfect opportunity for us to be outside studying nature in our beautiful Spring weather!

We started our week by going through Lesson 7 in "Behold Your Little Ones" and learning about how Jesus created the world for us.  We also learned a few songs about our beautiful world.  The favorites were definitely, "In the Leafy Treetops" and "My Heavenly Father Loves Me".  We choose Genesis 1:1 for our scripture memorization, it seemed like a perfect one for this week!  The children were THRILLED to go out exploring nature!
 Social Studies/Science
Our Social Studies and Science seemed to become one in many ways this week.  We talked about the importance of caring for living creatures, and how to offer hospitality to guests.  We were able to practice our hospitality by setting up a bed for grandma and grandpa and making sure they had a comfortable place to rest while they were here.

We took a field trip to a local nature center, and the first thing we saw on the side of their building were two lizards.  Unfortunately that's as close as we can get to a salamander in this area.
We got to see how tall we were compared to a snake, see a tarantula, and look at several displays of animals.
There was a beautiful lagoon where we sat and watched the minnows swim.  I loved this moment, and I'm so glad I could freeze it forever in my camera!
Lettie loved being able to touch everything she saw, and believe me she touched EVERYTHING!
We learned about the lifecycle of a salamander.
I love that little tongue!  It comes out whenever she is working hard.
We studied the five classifications of vertebrate, and practiced grouping animal flashcards in to the appropriate group.  (Mammal, fish, bird, amphibian, and reptile, in case you need a refresher.  I sure did!)
They worked together to cut out pictures to classify.
We also put the stickers in our little Dover "Insects Stickers" book.

Art
Our art combined with science as well this week, when we did some tree bark rubbings.  They used scrapbook paper to do the rubbings so I can use it for the journal pages of this "row".
We attempted to make "lace leaves" following the directions in our "Nature Explorers: Forest and Woods" book.  Notice I say attempted...  On rereading the directions I think that may have been the intended outcome, but it certainly wasn't what was pictured.  In any even, the little ones did enjoy the process, and looking at the leaves when they were still wet.
When we took the leaves out of their baking soda and water soak, they were pretty translucent, but a few hours later they had mostly turned black and had dried and crumbled. 
The same book had directions on how to make your own bird's nest with mud and grass, and while I contemplated giving it a try, we decided to make a yarn bird's nest instead.  
We finished our nest off with some wooden eggs that Bitsy and Manly painted, a little bird I picked up at the craft store, and some wood shavings.  It's made a cute little centerpiece on our table, and is a fun reminder of our week.
Before we made our nest, we studied a nest that had been abandoned on one of our window sills.  The children loved seeing the little feathers, and some of the bark from their play stumps.

Language Arts
We made a list of all of the things Brian was going to bring to make his new salamander at home.  I love lists, so anytime the manual recommends lists, we always make one!  :)

We also looked through the illustrations and noticed how Brian had been reading a book to learn how to take care of his new salamander, and discussed how much information we can learn from reading good books.

I think our favorite indoor activity was our lesson on parallel construction using blocks!  (I got the idea from Walking by the Way.)  It was an outstanding visual display of how an author can use balance as a tool to make a story interesting.
The most amazing part of this for me though, was when I read the mother's question, and Manly would recite verbatim the boys response from the book, after having read it twice.  I was stunned, and of course thrilled to know that all of the effort is paying off!
Just For Fun 
Because Grandma and Grandpa were here I got a little carried away with our meal again, so I will do a separate post later this week.
Grandma played Snail's Pace Race with Bisy, and Wildcraft with Manly and Bitsy.  They love board games, and I was so happy to remember that we had so many that fit in with our theme.  Our Camp board game would have been a fun one too.  Maybe we'll pull it out this week.
 We also read lots of books, especially when Grandma and Grandpa got here!
This story gave us the wonderful opportunity to spend more time out in the beautiful world the Father has given us, and to spend more time noticing and learning about His creations.  It was a week filled with memories and fun.

Links
Walking By The Way "Salamander Room" Ideas
Homeschool Share Printables
Yarn Bird's Nest (I love the brown paint added to the glue, we did it and the children loved it!)



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The Blessings of General Conference

"Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one's ability to overcome the challenges of life."

"They can become stalwart friends that are not limited by geography or calendar.  They are always available when needed.  Their use provides a foundation of truth that can be awakened by the Holy Ghost.  Learning, pondering, searching and memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world."

These two quotes struck my heart as I listened to Elder Richard G. Scott, one of the Lord's Apostles, speak during the last General Conference.

They were words of sweet comfort, but they were also words that prodded me to action.  Just before he ended his talk, Elder Scott shared that he had recorded the entire Book of Mormon for his children as a Christmas gift one year.  The Spirit was soft and gentle, but I knew what I needed to do.  In my notes I wrote, "Help daddy record the Book of Mormon for the children." 

The question was how to easily record them?  My husband was gone at the time, and I knew he would be gone most of this year.

At Christmas time the answer came.  My husband received that pen like device in the picture above.  The little circle on the top of the page in our family scriptures is a little recordable sticker, and that little piece of blue technology plays back everything my husband records onto that specific sticker.

He hasn't been able to record the entire Book of Mormon yet, but before he deployed he was able to go through and record the weekly recommendations for the Book of Mormon Feast from the January 2012 Friend. 

When I got out the scriptures, and the "daddy pen", as it's called around here, I saw calm come to little agitated souls.  I saw peace and hope.  I saw stalwart friends "not limited by geography or calendar."  I saw the blessings of following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  I saw the blessings of following the counsel of one of the Lord's Apostles.  I saw joy in my children as their daddy led them in the study of scripture, scripture that will always be available to them no matter where we are, or what our circumstances may be.  Scripture that will uplift them and encourage them even when no mortal man can.  I saw the blessing of General Conference.  I saw the hand of the Lord working in our family.



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Insect Exploration Sensory Bin

I don't usually make more than one sensory bin this month, but when our focus in school shifted to nature, I knew this would be a simple transition to make, so the little ones and I did it in about 10 minutes earlier this week!

I left our split pea base from our Scotland sensory bin as well as the green gem stones, added a few more silk leaves, and the insects from our Insect Toob.  The little ones decided some real leaves, sticks, and rocks were in order, as well as a pine cone from our collection. 

It was easy to put together, the children got to help, and most importantly...  They love it!

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Eating With Wee Gillis

Our food adventures with Wee Gillis were so much more than what we normally do that they really needed their own post, so here we are eating our way through Scotland...

No matter where he lived every morning Wee Gillis got up and had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, so inspired by JDaniel's mom, we had oatmeal with different toppings for breakfast every morning.

We started with oatmeal that had orange marmalade added, but it wasn't a hit, so the next morning we reheated the leftovers, added some dark chocolate, courtesy of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook, and had success.

Lettie was a pretty big fan!  She was so covered in orange chocolate oatmeal we had to give her a bath right after breakfast, but that smile, that smile makes it worth it.
 We had our family favorite of plain oatmeal with dried cranberries added in.
We also had oatmeal with strawberry puree and cut up fresh strawberries, and just a touch of honey, because our strawberries weren't that sweet.
Our final oatmeal was a slow cooker oatmeal, that was so good I didn't get a picture of it.  I will share our recipe though.  (I originally got the recipe from my mother in-law, and then adapted it a little.)  I added 2 cups of steel cut oats, 6 cups of water, and a can of coconut milk to the slow cooker.  Then I added 1/3 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, two chopped up apples, a tablespoon of honey and let it cook on low all night.  It was a wonderful warm breakfast in the morning.

Friday night is always our "row" dinner, and this week I took the recipes straight out of the Five In A Row Cookbook.  We had yummy potato farls, and oatcakes, with applesauce, and some turkey bacon.  The farls are a mashed potato pancake, and the oatcakes were like an oatmeal biscuit.  The little ones loved their Scottish themed dinner.  (I read after I had decided to have it for dinner that this would have been more of a traditional breakfast, so we added bacon and had breakfast for dinner.) 
Our final meal was Scotch Broth in the slow cooker.  I adapted the recipe from "The Gourmet Slow Cooker" by Lynn Alley.  Can you tell I like to adapt recipes?  This was so easy to make, and tasty to eat that we'll definitely be having it again.  To make this tasty dish you add two lamb chops to 6 cups of water, toss in a few roughly chopped carrots and stalks of celery, a chopped onion, and let it cook on low for 6-8 hours, then add salt and pepper to taste.  We also added in the leftover potatoes and cabbage from our corned beef the night before, which made it a little heartier, and I'm pretty sure a little yummier.  :)
The final addition to our week of Scottish taste testing were scones and orange marmalade that grandma and grandpa sent in our box of wonders.  Again, they were so tasty, that this is the best picture I have.  :)
It was a little more effort to have all of the foods included in our week, but it added A LOT more family memories.  I'm glad we took the extra effort.

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St. Patrick's Day Muffin Tin Meal

In honor of St. Patrick's Day we had an Irish inspired meal.  We had corned beef (top left and bottom right), Carrots, Cabbage (top right and bottom left) and potatoes.  All thrown in the slow cooker with a bay leaf and some water to cook for 8 hours, and served in our three leaf clover muffin tin. 

The presentation even made us successful in getting small amounts of cabbage into the children!!  To finish up our meal we read "The Story of Saint Patrick" by James A. Janda, one of my children's favorite books, and finished up the cupcakes from Grandpa!

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Week In Review: Wee Gillis

I know I've said this before, but this was a great week!  There really hasn't been a Five in a Row book that we've done that I haven't loved.  It is amazing how this program has combined my love of literature with my love of unit studies!  Our time with "Wee Gillis" by Munro Leaf started in February when we went to a local Scottish festival so we could see some sheep herding, hear some bag pipes, watch some dancing, and eat some meat pies.  I have to be honest, this was such a fun book for our family that I'm really sad our week with it is over. 

Some bagpipers at the Scottish Festival
"Wee Gillis" is about a young boy named "Alastair Roderic Craigellachie Dalhousie Gowan Donnybristle MacMac, but that took to long to say, so everybody just called him Wee Gillis."

Social Studies
Several generations ago part of our family immigrated from Scotland, and a few years ago my dad was blessed to be able to go back, so as soon as I decided we were going to "row" this book I gave him a call, and let me tell you he really came through for us!   We had travel brochures, pictures, including one of the family castle, treats, and Bitsy and Manly got a long haired cow, and a little puppy too.  (They were stuffed!)

After we looked through all of grandma and grandpa's pictures we found Scotland on the map, and since Wee Gillis is deciding whether to live in the Highlands or the Lowlands, we colored two maps, one showing the Highlands, and one showing the Lowlands.  We also colored a Scottish flag.
We also talked about the importance of controlling our emotions, as that is not something Wee Gillis' uncles had quite mastered!

Language Arts
Wee Gillis had an extraordinarily long name, because he was named after so many of his ancestors, and since we had our family tree up still, the little ones pointed to the pictures of the people they wanted to be named after, and we came up with Wee Gillis names.  Bitsy's was "Itsy Bitsy Rebecca Jane Cora Burbank Viehwig Lynn Westover" and Manly's was "Little Man Alfred Arthur Wright Aberhart Alfonzo Marcus Hare".  They were both glad that we normally just call them Itsy Bitsy and Little Man!

We read several poems by well known Scottish poet, Robert Burns, and then listened to a reading of "My Heart's In The Highlands" by Prince Charles.  The children loved listening to it!  We listened to it at least 10 times, and they both have it pretty well memorized.  (Totally random fact, did you know Robert Burns is attributed with writing "Auld Lang Syne"?)
We found a picture of Burns in our "Journey Through Bookland" series.  He's the top right.
Bitsy also copied part of "My Heart's In the Highlands".
We also took a chance to look to compare the Highlanders and Lowlanders on our chalk board.  The children loved seeing the balance the author offers in his description of the two sides.
Our Highland cow was observing our lesson on comparisons.
Art
Every once in a while I have an idea that I think is going to be really great, and I get excited for it, and then the little ones are totally unimpressed!  Gratefully this week, they thought my idea was a brilliant as I did.

Wee Gillis is drawn with ink and pen in black and white, so for our art lessons we switched things up and got black scratch art paper and sticks.  I ended up getting the paper in a fairly large quantity and as it turned out, that was a really good thing!  They have been scratching out pictures all week long.
My example of crosshatching.
I had hoped to get white scratch art paper with black underneath, but all I could find was white with rainbows, but no one seemed to mind.  In fact, they were completely thrilled after working with the black and white to discover the color underneath the white.
I was impressed with how much detail the children picked up on in the black and white illustrations.  They enjoyed finding the shadows as the manual suggests, but Bitsy noticed all on her own that there is a tiny little "RL" on the bottom of each illustration.  I explained to her that they are the initials of the artist Robert Lawson, and she went through the entire book looking for them.  I think she wanted to make sure he had illustrated the entire book.  There were only a few pages where we didn't find his initials.

We also spent a lot of time listening to our Putumayo "Celtic Dreamland" CD.
Math
Surprisingly our math lessons this week were greatly enriched by a trip to Costco.  I wanted to introduce the concept of "half" since Wee Gillis is feeling divided by his relatives, and spends half his time in the Highlands and half in the Lowlands.  He also goes half way up a hill.  So imagine my pleasure when we were at Costco and they had shortbread cookies (which are very Scottish) that were half dipped in chocolate!!! 
Who doesn't love cookies, or chocolate, or built in math lessons?  It was a very well received math lesson.  Even Lettie enjoyed it.
We also learned about the months of the year and the days of the week.  We read and started memorizing "The Months" nursery rhyme from our book of poems, and spent time going through our family calendar discovering who has a birthday in which month.  We also colored a little book of pictures that go along with the verses of the poem.  I got the booklet from our now out of print "Hickory Dickory Math" book.
Science
We spent quite a bit of time on science this week.
While we were at the Scottish Festival a few weeks ago we got to watch a lady card and spin some wool, and she was kind enough to share some of the uncarded wool with us so we could compare it to some carded wool we had already received.  We did a touch and smell comparison between the raw wool, the carded wool, and a wool skirt I have.
We also compared the pictures of the sheep Grandpa sent with the ones in our Encyclopedia of Animals, and the children were thrilled to see that the encyclopedia included a picture of the Scottish black face sheep that Grandma and Grandpa had seen.
We briefly discussed the water cycle, because it's something their familiar with from "The Magic School Bus Catches a Wave" DVD, and then we made fog in a bottle
You can just barely see the fog circulating around behind the condensation.
We also read about lungs in our "Usborne Look Inside Your Body" book.

Just for Fun (Science meets Field Trip)
Unbeknownst to Grandma and Grandpa Wee Gillis sits in some heather, which they not only sent us a picture of but also a little clipping of it from their garden.

Because the clippings on our table and the pictures were so pretty we took a field trip to the local nursery and picked up some heather to plant in our own yard.  We got a little extra botany lesson when we learned about the difference between true heather (Erica) and false heather (Cuphea).  We liked the look of the real thing better than the false, so we got two little plants to put in our front yard.
 Luckily we got it in before we got a big storm over the weekend!

Normally I would post our recipes for the week here as well, but we had so much fun with Scottish food, that it really needs it's own post, which I am hoping to get up later this week.

We are going to be starting "Peter Pan" next week as our family read aloud, since Grandpa sent pictures of J.M. Barrie's birthplace, and a picture of himself with a statue of one of the Lost Boys.  The little ones are really interested in hearing the story after seeing the pictures. 
Notice he was gluing so furiously his hand is blurred.
In other learning, Manly has been improving amazingly with his cutting skills.
 And little Lettie has learned how to push the laundry basket around, and is a big help on laundry day!  She likes to throw the lint in the trash can, throw things into the dryer, and push the basket anywhere you'll let her.

Links
Maps, Copywork pages, Maps, and more at Homeschool Share
Read.Explore.Learn.
Sun Scholars

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