Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Nature Area: Seashells part 1

I'm not sure how many times we'll make it to the beach this summer.  Truth be told the kids have already been out there twice this spring; a very leisurely drive on the PCH to get to Will Roger's Ranch and the other for a scout's beach clean up day.  The second beach outing and this cute little book, The True Book of Pebbles and Shells by Illa Podendorf, were the inspiration for our nature study area this summer about seashells and the seashore:

A few months back I asked another favorite Etsy artist, Aly from The Handmade Classroom, if she could come up with some shells for my little guys and our table.  They turned out just wonderful.  Her work is really neat.  I put some blue paper on a tray which holds our handmade seashells, homemade matching game, and our yardsale stubby pencil find.  All have been a hit with the little ones:

Also on the tray is a glass mason jar full of seashore treasures my kids collected at the beach clean up. (Since I took these pictures, the boys have managed to add some drift wood and wild flowers to the tray; from our trekk last week):

A few magnifying glasses are tucked underneath the table for easy access.  There is one in particular that we can't wait to take with us on our next trip to the beach.  I have to say this was not a cheap purchase at the homeschool convention I attended last month, but the kids have already had such a great time with this small field microscope.  It's ingenious, really.  There are two types of clamps; one for small clear boxes and the other for slides or baggies.  The boys have already enjoyed the clear boxes very much. They put a spider one day and it didn't take long for us to be able to actually see the spider spinning a web!!

In case you're wondering, it's the black one and it's called The Discovery Scope.  It comes with the black case and plenty of supplies; the pipet is just in case you want to put some liguid in one of the baggies.  I'm so excited about this field naturalist scope kit.

The kids love going through our bookshelves and helping me pick out books we already own to put in the basket.  I've actually enjoyed filling it and just letting them meander over and pick one.  We might not get to read them all cover to cover but we come pretty close and their curiousities do get piqued.  I also try to include a mature pick for my oldest; this time around it's Rachel Carson's The Edge of the Sea.  She just finished Sea Around Us so I thought she might want to continue with the trilogy. The rest are pretty well appreciated by all the kids.  In our book basket he have:

Pacific Intertidal Life by Ron Russo (small little book but a great field guide; part of a series)
The True Book of Pebbles and Shells by Illa Podendorf (great water color illustrations and our inspiration)
The Sunlit Sea by Augusta Goldin (a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science book)
The Curious Fish by Elsa Beskow (whimsical and great illustrations)
Far from Shore by Sophie Web (written in a naturalist journal style)
All About the Sea by Ferdinand Lane (informational, All About Series)
Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha (picture book, the kids like this one)
The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard (another favorite picture book)
One Small Square: Seashore by Donald Silver (field guide type, One Small Square series)
Who Lives at the Seashore by Glenn Blough (we're really enjoying his books)
Along the Seashore by Margaret Waring Buck (very much like Blough but for an older child)
Under the Sea by Anna Milbourne and Cathy Shimmen (my little ones enjoy this series)
On the Seashore by Anna Milbourne and Erica-Jane Waters
Following the Coast by Jim Arnosky (you can't go wrong with Arnosky books)
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (cute picture book)
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle (we also like A House for Hermit Crab but can't find it!)
The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow (another great picture book!)

Whew...we are ready for the beach and some seashore nature study!!  Now, to get dad to drive us there ; )

Friday, June 22, 2012

Little Keepers Welcome Summer Tea

The girls had a lovely time at their Little Keepers end of the year tea yesterday.  My daughter's and I spent all morning getting ready for our tea lunch.  We decorated with a nice bright summer quilt, glass mason jars for drinking and some quick scrap booking bright papered ornaments: 

We also did lots of cooking up of some delicious eats:

Lemon Zest Meringue Cookies: this was the first time I've made these. They didn't turn out like they're intended, but, oh, were they sweet, sticky and addicting!

Flying over the Rainbow Fruit Skewers.

Tulip Garden Butterfly Cucumber & Cheese Bites.

Mini Bear Claws and Strawberries.

I didn't take a close up of our Sunshine Mini Egg Fritas and Brownie Dirt Covered Flowers, but they were also very delicious.  The girls had a chance to chat and participated in a round robin of poetry readings.  I had also made a set of story starter cubes with some summerish themes; garden, beach, and princess fairy tales.  O.K. the last one is not summer but this was meant for little girls ; )  They seemed to get the hang of it and enjoyed a few rounds as well.  Our youngest Keeper got to take those home.  Then, like any other meeting, the girls seemed to have the best time playing on our little hill.  Boy, they don't need story starters when they go out there!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


By Christina Rossetti

Rushes in a watery place,
And reeds in a hollow;
A soaring skylark in the sky,
A darting swallow;
And where pale blossoms used to hang
Ripe fruit to follow.

This is officially our last week of Term 3.  The girls have been working through their End of Term Exams and finishing up their readings.  The boys, well, they just keep doing what they do every day : D 

We have a few other end of school activities this week too.  Tomorrow we host our Little Keepers "Welcome Summer Tea" and can't wait.  Another was very appropriately done at the park today.  Our Canterbury Tales literary club had the most relaxing afternoon under a most pleasant clear, sunny day.  Two of my children brought a book and the Rossetti poem to share with the group. Afterwards, they all headed towards the bushes, trees and stream to play.  Here is a glimpse of the perfect start to summer days:

The children also helped me set up our nature study area this morning.  We're very excited about our summer theme and can't wait to share it with you soon ; )

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Do We Have Enough Books?

Our library had their official Summer Reading Club sign ups this Monday.  My kids don't need incentives to read.  Their summer is always full of books anyway, but my oldest got turned on to this event by her grandmother (who works at the library).  Especially, since she discovered that some of the prizes were actually books!  Last summer I was made to promise we would join the program this year.  We fully intended to be there the first day but my mother-in-law warned us that it was very busy and short on volunteers.  So we decided to wait a few days.  O.k. we didn't make it the first day but the third.  Let's just not miss the first week was the sentiment.  All the kids signed up and before leaving the library some played the guessing game, entered a raffle and filled a bag with books to borrow.
Once at home we all continued with our day (trying to wrap up Term 3).  A few hours later my seven year old starts asking lots of questions about the rules of this summer reading club.  Now, let me remind you this is my very focused artist.  He can doodle, draw, create and just be for a few hours without being disturbed.  Well, he was focused yesterday; he was trying to fill in his book chart!  He had read six books already.  I explained that every week until the end of August you can go to the library report the books you've read, participate in activities, enter some drawings and receive a prize.  Then, his response, was music to my ears: 

"Do we have enough books?"