Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Today we went out to find out how old all the trees in our yard are. The usual growth for most trees is about an inch a year. The measurement around the trunk of a tree (about 5 feet up if you want to be most accurate), will give the approximate age of the tree. According to its measurement, our largest oak tree is about 118 years old!

Ava also enjoyed her favorite tree in the yard. We measured it to be about 80 years old. She did a bark rubbing on paper of its bark, followed its roots, and appreciated the 'Y' patterns she saw on the trunk. She finds that specific tree to be so special.

Noah was more interested in stick collecting and made a nice pile of sticks for a bonfire someday.

We also measured a cut log we have in the yard. We compared the number of rings inside, which shows the trees age, to the measurement in inches around the stump. There were 35 rings. It was 40 inches around. Pretty close!

Duluth, Thanksgiving, and Holiday Decorating

As it gets colder and days shorter, the kids are having to shift from the outside activities they have loved to new ones. The bikes and scooters have been put up, the sandbox covered, and not-soon-enough, the hoses will be rolled up and stored. Noah is still taking advantage of water even as the temperatures drop.

One good thing about the short days, is Ava can see the stars earlier now. She loves to go out and watch them. She brings her books out with her once in a while to find constellations.

Amora with a Lake Superior veiw.
We went up to Duluth, MN last week and stayed at a hotel with a water park. Ava can now doggie paddle and Amora got over her fears of deeper water with her life jacket on. And Noah did his thing. He LOVES water, as I've mentioned a few times, haha.
We also visited the aquarium. They have a set up for the kids about the lock and dam system that connects the great lakes together all the way to the Atlantic. The sign described this as being like an elevator for boats, which I thought was a great explanation to help the kids to understand how it worked. They must have spent 45 minutes putting the boats through all the different locks!

Vampire Fish! This guy sucks blood from other aquatic animals!

Fun with the Green Screen.

We got back just in time for Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family. The kids loved playing with  their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. They went for a walk outside and threw some acorns off the decks for the squirrels and birds, played with the three dogs, and Ava got to try out a baby grand piano, one of which she now wants. I think her keyboard will just have to do for now.

Our favorite Thanksgiving book!
The next day John and the kids put up the Holiday Lights around the yard. The kids love helping and handing him tools and clips and nails. He takes the time to show them how the tools work and how the clips work to hold on the lights, and how he uses the pole and hook to get them up high in the branches.

We made some ornaments for the tree out of homemade salt dough.

Noah made some nose prints...

And eye prints...

And elbow prints.

Then we baked them and cooled overnight.

The next day they painted them. Noah turns all painting projects into finger paint.

Ava gave one she made as a gift to the neighbors and wants to make more to give to the other neighbors too.

They made some more decorations and then some felt ornaments with their Grandma. I love looking at the tree with all their homemade crafts all over it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Math, History, and Science...In Context.

Moving into November! Fall has been fun.
Last week, Ava worked on grouping by 10s. I was really surprised at how she seemed to already know how to do it. I think I should quit being so surprised. Kids are smarter than we all tend to give them credit for. We were counting something on a game she was doing and I drew up some tallies on a piece of paper, telling her each group was a group of 10. She quickly counted them off by 10s and added the extras to get 43. And then carried on with her game. We also counted by groups while playing a card game. When counting up our matches we counted by 2s and by 5s etc. And she and Noah played some kind of car grouping with the abacus, though I think only they understood what was going on with it. They were very involved in it as they grouped cars and then counted it out on the abacus.

It's funny to me that if I ask Ava if she likes math, she'll say she doesn't. Yet when in the context of life and fun, she loves the number challenges. She says the same about reading, yet loves reading games and spelling things out. She makes grocery lists every week and reads them back to me etc.
She also will tell me she doesn't like history. I'm not sure she even knows exactly what "history" as a subject is. Yet she was so intrigued by a new book we received, Barack Obama's "Of Thee I Sing," which mentions different people from history and the impact they had. She wanted to know more about each person, which I see as a great opening door for her to learn more about some of these key people in American history.

All three kids got to color some pillow cases and tote designs at their grandparents this week. And Ava rode her bike for two miles with her grandpa which she is very proud of. Then they got to play with the neighbor friends the rest of the afternoon outside.

Noah has been working on more letter sounds and Ava more spelling and reading. We made a poster to help decipher between lowercase "b" and "d" which has always frustrated her. I drew the word "bed" and she got to design a bed and bedroom around it. The word "bed" looks much like a bed, which helps her remember which way the b and d go. Cool, huh? Afterwards, I wrote a bunch of 'b's and 'd's down and she could easily figure them out by thinking of the bed she colored. It made her giggle to know she could figure them out on her own now.

Amora has been getting into the fun too. She learned how to use a scissors and Ava taught her how to control and click the computer mouse using the online program http://www.abcmouse.com/. She played Linkin Logs and made Lego towers with her big brother went on walks with Ava around the parks we went to.
She also enjoyed playing in playhouses at the breakfast playdate with some vegan friends and their kids which included delicious pumpkin pancakes!

While John and I were watching a movie the other night (and thought the kids were doing the same upstairs), I came up to find that they had been up to their own project. The three of them had grabbed a box of baking soda, poured it (all) into a bowl, and added some water. As I was looking at the mess when I came up, Ava quickly jumped in to explain that they had discovered how to make "goo" with baking soda and that she had cleaned it up as best she could. Well, it could have been worse, as far as I'm concerned, so let's call it a science experiment and add it to the blog, right?
Oh, and she also created a new snack: bread and margarine with sprinkles, which may account for why they were so hyper at bed time.
Well, at least John and I got to watch a full movie. Haha!

The kids happen to be night owls so it's not strange for them to be working at stuff late into any "school night." After the younger kids went to bed one night, Ava decided to paint for a while. She (re)discovered mixing colors to make new colors and was all excited with her different color creations. I printed her off a color wheel to show her which colors can create new ones.
Luckily, we get to sleep in!