Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Post Full of Books and Caterpillars!

There are a lot of book recommendations in this post, and not as many crafts, which is so unlike me, but when I find some gems, I want to share and show how I apply them to our curriculum and what we are learning.  No worries, though, as there will be plenty of crafts coming this week with the start of Fall projects and our study of planets and stars in Science!  After this coming week, though, we will take our first week off.  (Remember, we will work 3 on, then have 1 week off, typically, instead of taking the entire summer off.)      It will give us time to refresh and get ready for three more weeks of learning!  But, there still may be a post or two during those break weeks if we do something particularly neat in our book club or at a homeschooling meeting.  Anyway, enough jabber for now ... on to the good stuff!

Al called me this morning from the park to inform me that he and Mags were coming home with caterpillars! (Oh, boy!  We've done this before!)  I try not to miss out on opportunities for Mags to learn, though, so I set up the ol' aquarium.  And here is what they came home with ... creepy looking critters (in Maggie's little bug playground, a find from Lowe's)!  
They set to work adding some foliage to our tank.
 And then they spritzed the leaves so the caterpillars would have a bit of moisture.
 Then, they introduced them to their new home!
 Checking out their new digs ... :)
Mags is tickled to have the aquarium back in business!  :)
Then, we went to the computer to identify them.  We found out we had Gulf Fritillary Butterflies (Agraulis vanillae), or Passion Butterflies (so called because they feed only on passion flower leaves), which look like the picture below!  Beautiful!  Click on this link for more info:  
Then, we watched this great You Tube video about the life cycle of the Gulf Fritillary.  We can't to see them emerge, in about two weeks!  (We'll keep you posted!)
All year in our Bible studies, we will be trying to replicate some of the food from the Bible thanks to this great Biblical cookbook I bought this past year, Food at the Time of the Bible: From Adam’s Apple to the Last Supper by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh.  (If you are a Bible lover like we are, you will want to pick up this book!)  This weekend, we made two of the recipes, "The Matriarch Sarah's Cheese for Children" and "Sarah's Biblical Bread," after we read about the special visitors that Abraham received in Genesis 18.  (For instructions on the same, see below.)
For "Sarah's Biblical Bread" (which is a sourdough starter), you will need 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, and 3/4 cup warm water to start the process.  (In four days' time, which will be Wednesday, we will be completing the process and will give you further instructions.)  Here, Maggie is mixing the flour and water which we will then leave uncovered in a warm place for four days, stirring occasionally.  (To quote the book, "In Bible times, packaged yeast did not exist, so people used sourdough starter which absorbed yeast from the air.")
After we set up our Biblical bread starter, we then went on to make "The Matriarch Sarah's Cheese for Children" using 2 pints of milk, lemon juice, salt, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of dried hyssop.  (Hyssop was translated from the Hebrew "ezeb," which means "a holy herb."  It was used in ancient times to cleanse holy places.  It smells wonderful!  Unfortunately, it is not an easy find in the grocery store, so we actually hit the natural foods store to pick up this hyssop tea (basically, dried hyssop like the recipe calls for, in tea bags).)  If you cannot locate hyssop, the character of it "can best be described as a combination of the aromatic herbs thyme, rosemary, and savory ..." (per the tea box), so perhaps an equal combination of those three herbs in 1/2 teaspoon will give you the same effect.
First, you want to heat your milk.  Then, add your lemon juice and stir, like Mags is doing here.  (For the lemon juice, the book calls for a few drops, but my milk didn't separate until I added much more.  My suggestion would be to add a teaspoon at a time every couple of minutes, while the mixture heats, until your curds separate from the liquid.)  (The recipe replaces fig sap (which would have been more accurate for those times) with the lemon juice, and says, "The branch of a fig tree is what the biblical matriarch probably used to stir," but we will have to settle for a wooden spoon.)  :)
Bring the mixture slowly to a boil.  "When curds have separated from the liquid, take a clean cloth with a wide weave ("cheesecloth") and pour the contents of the pot into the cloth."  
 I had read that you can use coffee filters as a substitute for cheesecloth (since we had none), so we tried it by lining our colander with coffee filters.  They worked great!
"Wring out the cloth to get rid of as much liquid as possible, leaving the cheese curds behind.  Place the cheese in another container.  Add salt, butter, and hyssop to taste."
 Here's Mags, adding some salt ...
 ... and the hyssop!
 Our cheese is done ... just like Sarah would have made it for the three visitors to Abraham!  :)
 And it tasted quite good!
We are reviewing the short and long vowel sounds, and in our study of the short i sound, we read Phonics Tales! The Little Pink Pig by Liza Charlesworth.  (I love these books!)  The back page has the "Short-i Cheer" which goes like this:
"Hooray for short i, the best sound around!
Let's holler short-i words all over town!
There's pig and trip and wish and miss.
There's lip and fish and drink and dish.
There's skip and milk and six and big.
There's pink and chimp and dish and wig.
Short i, short i, give a great cheer,
For the most interesting sound you ever will hear!"
Before we get into our at-home country studies (versus the ones we focus on in our homeschooling group), we are doing some review of map-reading and directions.  (You can look under the 'Maps' tab in our index to see some projects we put together last year, including a compass rose.)  But, to review our directions, we started with the reading of this great little book, We Need Directions! by Sarah De Capua.
Then, we read the "Compass" poem by Maria Fleming out of this Got Geography! poetry book compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  (See below the picture of the book for the poem.)
by Maria Fleming

Compass, compass,
Point the way
To wild places
Where few stray.
Across deep seas
To distant lands, 
Toward arctic ice
And desert sands,
To jungles gleaming
To mountaintop
And deep ravine.
Guide me around
The globe and then,

Point me home again.

After that, we talked about map keys and legends using this great book, Map Keys by Rebecca Aberg, as a resource.
(Next week, in our Geography/Social Studies curriculum, we will be covering countries and cities on maps, as well as borders and islands.)  

We also have been learning about Stranger Danger this week.  The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers by Stan & Jan Berenstain is, in my opinion, one of the best books out there on this subject.  (I grew up reading The Berenstain Bears and I can see that Maggie has the same fondness for these books as I did.)
We also read I Know Where I Live by Dianne H. Pappas & Richard D. Covey, which talks about how important it is for a child to know his/her personal information in case he/she loses Mom or Dad.  It's not the best read, but it is a good book for introducing a "Know Your Information" activity or project, which we will complete tomorrow.  (Check back in with us.)
And finally, tonight, we had a service project with our American Heritage Girls troop, where we made a banner for the church that helped fund the costs for the start-up of our group.  Here, Mags is getting help with her part of the banner from her leader, Ms. Ann!
 And here she's watching her buddy, Olivia, take her turn!  :)
See you soon!