Become a Naturalist

Ah Spring! There is so much about this time of year that brings out poetry, curiosity and a sense that anything is possible. When the kids get restless and itchy, take a break from video games and household routines and explore the natural world. To make it a more interesting adventure, become Naturalists and record the days observations and sightings. All you need is the following, all of which will fit in a backpack:

1. A pair of binoculars for zooming in on birds or other elusive wildlife. A magnifying glass for closeups of insects and plant life.

2. A Field Guide of insects and birds of North America.  There are many excellent ones you can borrow from a local library or download onto your Kindle or iphone.

3. A journal or notebook will help you record sights, sounds, names of animals and plants you discover, and details to use in writing a story or drawing a picture when you get back home.

4. A camera.

5. Comfortable shoes, water, snacks.

Try an outing at different times of day. What is awake in the early morning hours may be totally different from what is active mid day or at sunset. If you’re having difficulty finding “critters”, be still and listen to the sounds of nature. This stillness often leads to amazing discoveries. It will definitely bring you peace and calm your stress. If you’re near water, turn over some rocks at the water’s edge. There are many hatching insects under them to marvel at.

And, like every good naturalist, remember to leave only footprints, and take only pictures and memories, and bring back any trash left behind by the human animal, so we can enjoy the natural world for years to come.

Hand Binding Books with 1st Graders

A perfect craft for beginning writers to keep their stories in book form.

The Hungry Artist

In a previous post on making collages with kids, I mentioned my visits to P.S. 142 and the wonderful students I worked with there.  A few weeks ago, I made my last visit to two 1st grade classes, and we completed our book projects by binding them together.

The binding method I did with the children is a very simplified version, using just paper and yarn.  I prepped by taking the students’ writing/collage projects home and punching holes in the margin beforehand.  I also cut lengths of yarn and knotted one end and taped the other end to form a blunt point for “sewing”.

Then, we bound the books together in class.

The children loved having a hand-made finished product at the end!

To bind papers together to make a book, you need:

Paper

Large Paper Clip

Hole puncher

Yarn

Tape

Scissors

1.  Punch holes in paper along left…

View original post 85 more words

Interview with Detective Wilcox about The Case of the Poached Egg.

Today I am meeting with Detective Wilcox, #2 Missing Food Investigator on the force at Ed’s Farm, to discuss the latest developments in The Case of the Poached Egg.

DBJ: Is it true Henrietta’s precious egg, Penny, was egg-napped on the eve of Farmer Ed’s Big Speggtacular?

DW: At 10:00 am on Tuesday Henrietta Hen reported the disappearance of her egg, Penny.

DBJ: Was it an egg-napping?

DW: It’s too soon to tell.

DBJ: Any suspects?

DW: I can’t comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, but I can tell you we plan on speaking with particular animals of interest.

DBJ: Do you think Penny’s disappearance has something to do with the Speggtacular?

DW: We’re exploring all possible angles.  

DBJ: Was fowl play involved?

DW: On a farm with over 100 hungry thieving animals, it’s always a possibility.

DBJ: Are those cheese donuts on your desk? I’ve never had one.

DW: Help yourself.

DBJ: Do you know how they came about?

DW: The cheese donuts? Some crazy children’s book author named Robin Newman came up with the idea. Now I’ve got to scramble if I’m going to crack this case. Let’s hope this case finishes sunny side up. Sunny side up, indeed.

About Robin Newman:  

Raised in New York and Paris, Robin was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs and peacocks. She’s the author of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery (Creston Books) and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (Creston Books). The second book in the Wilcox & Griswold mystery series,

The Case of the Poached Egg (Creston Books), releases April 2017 (but is already available for pre-order at your favorite independent bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and No Peacocks! (Sky Pony Press), flies onto bookshelves fall 2017. Robin lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels.

Website: www.robinnewmanbooks.com

Twitter: @robinnewmanbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RobinNewmanBooks/339179099505049

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Path to Home Schooling by Teresa Robeson

The paths that different families take to homeschooling are varied and unique. Even within a single family, the decision to home school each child can be drastically dissimilar, as was the case with us.

Our older son was precocious. He knew the alphabet around the age of one and was reading by two.  

One time when Son1 was about three years old, while watching my husband garden, a strange worm wriggled out of the soil. My husband wondered aloud what it could be. Our son replied that it was a wire worm. Hubby naturally thought he was making it up and so, as adults do, nodded indulgently and said, “Oh, is that right?” After returning to the house, hubby looked it up in the “The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insects and Disease Control” book and sure enough, that’s what it was.  

Son1 had been perusing the book and we assumed he was only looking at the pictures but he was actually reading the text.                              

By the time kindergarten rolled around, he was reading proficiently and counting up to 100, doing simple adding and subtracting. We figured that he would be incredibly bored with kindergarten and decided to keep him home for the year, putting him in grade one after that. We didn’t want to skip him up to grade one at that point since, in maturity, he was more like his kindergarten peers.

My younger son, on the other hand, was at the opposite end of the spectrum. He had language delay and exhibited symptoms on the autism spectrum (he has since been tested and is determined to be not autistic though he has a learning disability). He attended a public school speech preschool program and blossomed under their tutelage, but he had sensory integration issues that made him highly sensitive to noise and chaos. Since most kindergarten classes are the epitome of noise and chaos, we decided that the best option for him was to not send him to kindergarten, but to home school him until he outgrew his aversions and to take him to occupational and speech therapy on our own.

When each of them arrived at the stage where we thought they could happily integrate into the school system–around grade two for Son1 and fifth grade for Son2–we gave them the option every year of going to public school or continuing to home school. They always chose to continue with homeschooling.

Thanks to a wonderful, large, and diverse home school support group in our town, we were able to have the kids participate in group activities–everything from music to art to language lessons–in addition to doing lessons at home on our own. The support group, by holding parties and playgroups as well as the more academic offerings, also ensured that the kids interacted with other children in multi-age gatherings rather than just a narrow subset of their same age peers.

We’re nearing the end of homeschooling. A few years ago, Son1 won a National Merit Scholarship and entered university with nearly perfect SAT scores. He is currently in his junior year and plans to go to graduate school. Son2 is finishing up the twelfth grade and plans to take a gap year to assess his interests.

We have been pleased with our homeschooling journey. It’s not an educational path suited to everyone but it worked out for us and we’re happy we could provide it for our children, both with their own special needs. 

Teresa’s family has been homeschooling since 2000. This is their last year of home-learning and she’ll have more free time to write, do art, knit, make soap, bake, and can jams and jellies in the future. She can be found online at teresarobeson.com

 

 

Three Cheers for SPRING!!!

The Inspiration Called Spring.

After painting my thoughts from a grey pallet with a cold winter brush, I pick up the same brush and find it changes color like a chameleon. The words coming from its tip are filled with sensory images that wake up the dormant muse. There is no doubt that spring has entered into the picture to spread its influence on my thoughts. How can I stay grey when yellow and purple crocuses wave their tongues as I pass by? How can I be cold when the earth feels warm in my hands? How can I take a breath of air without bringing the scent of grass and hyacinth to my nostrils? Spring is the season of poetry; it is the feast promised after the famine passed. It is the reason birds sing, and the sun shines. It is the reason I pick up a fresh piece of paper and a newly sharpened pencil and bare my soul in words.                    crocus

Get your children outside on a SPRING SCAVENGER HUNT. Make a list of things to look for as you take a walk through the neighborhood or park. Some possible things to include on your list are: flowers of various colors, different kinds of birds, different kinds of trees/leaves, insects, things popping out of the ground, nests, etc. Or, make it a sensory hunt and try to identify various bird songs, nature sounds, smells from blossoming trees and flowers, taste of newly sprouted asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries.


Celebrate all things spring!

DIY Twine Bowl

Here is a perfect craft for a day stuck indoors. Try using colored twine for a festive effect.

twinebowl-6-of-12When we first lived together sophomore year of college, our sorority made us choose a theme for our bedroom. Yes, you read that right. And to be completely honest, we were pretty psyched. Remember those home improvement shows for kids where they went all out on the themed rooms? Well that’s what it felt like. After much deliberation (and accepting that a Harry Potter theme probably wouldn’t fly in the sorority house), we chose “country rustic”. We’re still not quite sure what that means other than we probably spent too much time looking at Pinterest weddings.

Anyways, to make this story somewhat relevant, this craft made us giggle because it’s very “country rustic”. If you put twine on anything you can call it rustic, but make a bowl out of it and use it to hold your farm fresh eggs, and now you’ve got country rustic.

But really, this craft is…

View original post 255 more words

Irish Soda Bread…AGAIN…Because it’s Delicious!

I first ran this recipe in 2014 but everywhere I go, people comment on the moistness and light sweetness of this bread, so here it is…in time for ST. PATRICK’S DAY.

This recipe for Soda Bread is more moist than many thanks to the buttermilk.  If you can’t find buttermilk, use regular plain yogurt (NOT Greek).

Irish Soda Bread

4 C flour (I use 1C whole wheat)       ½ C sugar       1 T baking powder

1 t salt               1 t baking soda         1 C. raisins plumped (see note)

 4 T melted butter        1 ½ C buttermilk      1 lg. egg

  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease and flour a round pan or cookie sheet.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder and salt.
  3. Pour melted butter into dry ingredients and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in raisins.
  4. In a separate bowl beat buttermilk, egg and baking soda.  Add to flour mix until blended.
  5. Turn dough onto floured surface, and knead until smooth – about 1 minute.  If dough is sticky, flour your hands as you knead.  Shape dough into two round loaves.  soda bread 1
  6. Place dough in prepared pan. With a sharp knife, make 2 crisscross slits in dough.
  7. Bake for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.  Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
  8. Serve sliced with butter or jam.  Bet you can’t eat just one piece!

soda bread 2

NOTE: Pour boiling water over the raisins and let them stand for 5 minutes to soften.  Drain and pat dry.