Friday, April 1, 2016

Electricity and Magnetism

We recently finished a specialty unit on Electricity and Magnetism. The kids got to learn all kinds of cool things.
 They learned about static electricity
 How to make a compass from a needle, magnet and cork

 Everyone got involved.
 They made an electromagnet (which promptly started to smoke and get really hot!)
 We walked in our neighborhood to look at the power transfer station and the transformers.

 And we talked about how power gets from the power plant to our home over these big transmission lines that we can see from our house.
 And finally, we bought a set of Snap Circuits so they could learn about how various electronics worked.

It has over 100 different things they can build and learn from, so we expect hours and hours of fun. :)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Youthful Ingenuity

It amazes me sometimes just how smart our kids can be. Giving them free time to be able to create on their own can often yield surprising results.
  This is Ezra's glider, "Big Wings."
 Here he built a jet with a launcher, "Kinda like an aircraft carrier except it's smaller than the plane."

 And lately, the kids have been fascinated by Star Trek, so Gabe made this interpretation of the USS Enterprise. I didn't really see the resemblance until I opened it and found "The Bridge".

 I thought is was both hilarious and ingenious that Gabe had "Kirk" in the chair and all the other guys at their stations.
 In other news, Ezra is a huge fan of Falcon from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so he tried to make himself some wings out of paper.
 They weren't very durable, so I made him another set from an Amazon box we had laying around.

And finally, I woke up from a nap one afternoon to find the kids out in the back yard playing under this tent they had made from a parachute, outdoor chairs and a garden stake. They lined the floor with empty chicken feed bags. Again... Ingenious.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Peach Blossoms 2016

 It's the time of year that everything is in bloom and this year, we were lucky enough to get permission to go out to Buttermilk Creek Farm in Alamance County and see the peach trees up close. 
 It's no surprise that the trees were literally buzzing with honeybees hard at work.
 The kids were able to get up close and examine the trees and blossoms.
 They drew pictures in their nature journals and made observations about the trees.

 They also found a ton of peach pits on the ground from last year's harvest.
 The blossoms were just so stunning, it was hard to leave them behind.
But we'll be back in a few months to collect them when they've become big, ripe peaches!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Buffalo Creek/Latham Park

Every day at the breakfast table, we've been reading a poem from Wendell Berry's New Collected Poems. Recently, there was one that talked about a river flooding and the effects that the flood had on the land around the river. It says, in part:

And the water reaches a height
it can only fall from, leaving
the tree trunks wet.
It has made a roof
to its rising, and become
a domestic thing.
It lies down in its place
like a horse in his stall.
Facts emerge from it:
drift it has hung in the trees,
stranded cans and bottles, 
new carving in the banks
 - a place of change, changed.
It leaves a mystic plane
in the air, a membrane
of history streteced between
the silt-lines on the banks,
a depth that for months
the man will go from his window
down into, knowing
he goes within the reach 
of a dark power: where
the birds are, fish

Arounf the same time that we read this poem, there was a rather heavy thunderstorm. In Greensboro, we know the Buffalo Creek tends to flood in heavy rains, so we took the kids over to Latham Park where they could walk beside the creek and see the effects of the most recent storm.
The creek has a very silty bank that was spongy and showed where the creek had cut through the surrounding earth. You can see how the debris from the most recent storm has clumped around the base of the trees, kind of like the poem describes.
 Under the Wendover bridge, you could see debris lodged as high as 8 feet above the normal height of the creek!
The kids like walking on the sloped area under the bridge and if you look behind Gabe, you can see even more debris lodged all the way up to the bottom of the bridge! It was very much a reminder of the power that the water can have, just as Berry described at the end of that poem.

Amazingly, we found recent evidence of a beaver! 
You could see his teeth marks in the bark of the fallen tree

A nearby pine was dropping some huge cones.
The kids thought this tree was amazing because it had 4 trees (though one had been cut down) growing all together from the same stump. I thought it was amazing because I got them all to smile at the same time! :)

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Day at Triad Park

Rebecca took the kids out for a play day at Triad Park.
 They have these giant artificial boulders that the kids love to climb.

 Olivia ding her "conquering explorer" pose.

  Gabe's loose clothes make him look like he's made of jelly. :)

 They took the opportunity to roll down the hill a few times. :)

 They finished off the afternoon with a walk through the woods.