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Swimming Creatures Lesson 8: Crustaceans

We explored God's creation of shrimp, crabs, lobster, krill, crayfish, barnacles, trilobites and more in this lesson. We learned that arthropod means jointed leg and foot, what an exoskeleton is made of, what molting is, crustacean anatomy, special features of a crustacean and more. Notebooking activities included drawing a picture of a lobster as as example of a typical crustacean and labeling the body parts, then drawing a picture of a crab and comparing the differences, and writing a story about a conversation between a mother crab and a mother horseshoe crab.
Then we took a field trip to our local pet store to see some real live crustaceans, from Peppermint and cleaner shrimp to crayfish, fiddler crabs, a soapbox crab, and hermit crabs. Angel, the store owner, was very helpful to take the time to show us around, let us handle the soapbox and hermit crabs, and answer our questions.
The soapbox crab (pictured lower right) was quite a sparky little entertaining fellow, but we opted to adopt some less active crustaceans and chose a couple hermit crabs (apparently "hermit" crabs are social creatures) to take home, observe, and keep as pets. The boys enjoy holding them while we read.
Our experiment this lesson was to hatch brine shrimp, or Sea Monkeys. So, we also picked up a hatch mix containing brine shrimp eggs and salt. We put them in a glass jar with a light to keep the water around 80 degrees and are waiting for them to hatch.
Jordan found a feeder crayfish, also known as a crawdad, crawfish or fresh water lobster, and bought one to put in his turtle tank, knowing that it might be food for the turtle.
The turtle did attempt a bite, but the crawdad pinched him good and the turtle is keeping its distance!
Delightful Link:

Prepare and Pray Lesson 10 - Preparing for Winter

In chapter nine of The Swiss Family Robinson, the Robinson's continue their preparations for winter and settle in their new home in the cave,"Rockburg," for the winter. They passed the time productively in the cave learning, building, mastering skills and serving one another. We compared this to our desires to idle away time watching television and our efforts to limit and censor what we watch. We discussed how much more valuable it is to be wise stewards of our time doing activities that are productive and we talked about some of the ways that we can do this.

So, how can we be the best stewards of the time we have? First, we must seek Him, then all other things will be added to us. When we honor Him, He blesses our time and talent. We ask Him to order our day, and then try to honor Him in all we do.

For Scripture memory this lesson, we began work on Proverbs 31:10-31.

We learned about tornados - what causes them to develop, what the difference is between a funnel cloud and a tornado, what a waterspout is, what a jet stream is and when tornados are most likely to develop. We also developed a tornado, hurricane, earthquake plan and talked about what to do - where we should go/not go, what to take, and whom to help. We talked about specific dangers and how to be safe. We watched this video, Tornados 101, about how tornados are formed and how to stay out of their way. We made a tornado in a bottle to see how the air from the bottom bottle is sucked up to form the wind tunnel, much in the same way a tornado is formed.

 We took a virtual field trip to Ready Kids and did some preparedness games and activities on tornados. We made a Family Plan and organized our preparedness packs and first aid kits.

The boys each have a camo fanny pack that they can carry with them when we are in the mountains. Each bag contains: hot hand packs, solar blanket, para cord, emergency candle and tin can, waterproof matches and magnesium fire starter, whistle, light stick or flashlight, multi-purpose tool/pocket knife, compass, rain poncho, emergency drinking water, fishing line, fishing hooks, lashing cord, bandana, and dried fruit. Then we each have a bigger bag, such as the boys' army rucksacks, which contain a set of clothes, more food, a Berkey water purifier (which will purify water straight from a stream), small hand tools such as a Gerber multi-tool, pocket knives, hand shovel, binoculars, fire starters, waterproof matches, para cord, twine, gloves, duct tape, etc. Then, in the car, we have more of the above, plus tarps, a small piece of carpet, emergency candles, a small shovel, and hand crank flashlight/radio. We have a cargo bag that goes on top for sleeping bags and a tent. We still need to add a few things, so we made a list.

We also learned how to free oneself from quicksand and watched this short video.

 We talked about how to heat water without electricity using solar hot water heaters, and wood stove reservoirs. And what winter preparations we would need to make in our region.

We learned how to mend.


We learned how to sew a patch, repair seams, and hem.

We learned how to sew a button, make a button hole, and hand felt.

We made banana chips using a honey dip to pretreat the bananas: 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup honey. We dried 9 trays of bananas!

And had lots of banana peels to compost. So, we thought this would be a good time to start a new compost pile. We peeled and cut the bananas into smaller pieces so it would compost faster. In warm weather, we will turn it frequently. Our last compost pile took forever to compost because we rarely turned it.

We have 40 pounds of Organic apples to dehydrate next. We get organic apples from a food co-op for .80 cents a pound! If you live in the Northwest/Midwest and don't know about Azure Standard, I encourage you to check them out. They have quality natural and organic foods at great prices when you buy in bulk!

We concluded our lesson by reading about the Critter of the Week: Sheep. We used the book Barnyard in your Backyard to learn sheep terminology, qualities of a good sheep, care and keeping of sheep, sheep sheering, and how to prepare and use the wool.

S is for Silly, Sand and Sunflowers

~Malachi is 4 years, 2 months ~

Memory Verse:
From Sing the Word A-Z

Seek ye first the kingdom, the kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Matthew chapter 6 verse 33.


Sammy the Seal, by Syd Hoff
The Reasons for Seasons, by Gail Gibbons


From a Child's Garden of Verses
The Swing
At the Seaside
Bed in Summer

Get Set for the Code:

Letter Review:


Drawing S's in Sand

Sand Play

Mixing, molding, pouring and digging in sand.

We explored with measuring cups, molds, measuring spoons, shovels, sieves and funnels to pour, spoon, shape, scoop and sift.

We used measuring cups as mold to create "big, bigger, and biggest" sand cakes, comparing size.

What is sand like when it is dry, damp, or wet?

We added varying amounts of water to sand and talked about the sand's consistency.

Sack Lunch

Sand play was messy, so I thought today would be a good day to each lunch outside. So, we had a sack lunch that included a sandwich and a surprise.


Sandpaper S's

Sandpaper Prints

We colored on sandpaper and then ironed it between two pieces of paper to make some unusual prints.

Sidewalk Chalk

Sole Rubbings

We taped a piece of paper to the bottom of a shoe and did a crayon rubbing. 

Shapes and Colors Bingo

Mali and Elli each took turns spinning and they looked for the colors and shapes on each others boards. 

We made a summery sumflower out of handprints.

Seeds and Sounds and Senses:

I put various matierials that start with S (salt, seeds, sucanat, etc.) in small containers with lids and had Mali listen to the sounds they make and tell me whether they were soft or loud.


We read about seasons in the book The Reason's for Seasons and talked about what we learned, which season we are in, and which season is our favorite (Mali said winter because he likes the snow best).

Silly Fun:

To finish our lesson on the letter S, we had a Silly Surprise Party!

I kept it super simple with an S snack, homemade soda with silly straws, a surprise box, and silly string. 

The surprise box had organic suckers, and sour apple twists and they had to seek in the sawdust to find them.

Then we had fun with silly string.

Some of the books we used:

Swimming Creatures Lesson 7: Sharks and Rays

In this lesson we learned about Chondrichthyes, cartilaginous fish, such as sharks and rays. We learned that the scales of sharks and rays are like teeth and are called dermal denticles (skin teeth!). And we learned the differences between a shark and a ray, the differences between a sting ray and manta ray and how to tell the size of a shark by their teeth. Dylan is measuring the teeth in the book and did a good job recalling that every inch of tooth equals 10 feet of shark length. We learned how the ampullae of Lorenzini help a shark detect electrical signals given off by other animals in the water, which helps it hunt. Our experiment this lesson was to determine whether salt water or fresh water conducts electricity better.
Nathan and Dylan did the experiment together and they both hypothesized that the salt water would conduct electricity better (they both listened well during the reading).
Nathan used more salt than required in the directions and had some interesting reactions, besides discovering that the salt water does indeed conduct electricity better. The salt began to corrode the metal clips and turned the water around it black.
Jordan wasn't around to see their experiment was was clueless as to what would happen. He wasn't surprised to see the light not go on with the fresh water; but, was surprised the salt water conducted electricity enough to make the light bulb shine dimly. I reminded him that sharks can detect electrical signals in the water. He made the connection then. :-) He also noticed the reaction to the metal from the salt and thought that was cool. The homeschool mom in me wanted to rabbit trail and see if we can make electricity with a lemon. . . maybe another day!
We also learned some new words like agnatha and anadromous. And what a lamprey and a hagfish is and how they feed. And that a hagfish can tie itself in a knot because it has no backbone.
We drew a typical shark and ray in our notebooks talking about some of the characteristics of each. Then we note-booked on the difference between a shark and a ray. Then we did a note-booking page on lamprey and hagfish. Here are two of Nathan's notebooking pages:
"Did you know that shark's can smell fish from miles away because they have their ampullae of Lorenzini between their eye and the tip of the snout. And sharks have a great sense of hearing so it is easy to find a fish."
"Did you know that Manta Rays have hand like fins to guide plankton in it's mouth. And did you know that manta ray's weigh about 3,000 pounds and people ride on manta rays because manta rays do not sting."
Here are some more writings of what Nathan remembered from this lesson: "Did you know that lampreys suck on fish blood. In the picture above, lampreys are sucking on a tuna fish." "Did you know that Agnatha means without jaw and hagfish do not have a jaw. Did you know that when a hagfish is scared it will poop out 2 gallons of slime."
(Actually it vomits it up and is considered to be very repulsive by the fishermen who accidentally catch one of these fish). And I can see I need to remind him to use a question mark when he asks a question! I love his voice when he writes, it is similar to the friendly, personal style author Jeanie Fulbright writes in.
Here is a video we found on what a small amount of slime can grow!
Another interesting video we found:
Delightful Links:

Soccer Fever

Jordan playing goalie his first game of the season.
It is that time of year again. Spring is here and so is soccer. Spring soccer is the biggest sport of the year at our local YMCA.  Our boys have been practicing for several weeks now and are excited about this season.  They have had extra practices with notable soccer players from our area and even a practice with a British soccer coach from Challenger Soccer.  All I can say is, "Wow." My boys are doing kicks that not only get the ball going in the right direction, but just look too cool!  My boys love sports and it helps having a dad who is a Sports Programmer at the YMCA. This school year we have done Fall soccer, basketball, volleyball, floor hockey and now Spring soccer.  Phew! I am ready for it to be over already; but, I look forward to the nice weather and time outside- hopefully it stays nice! 
One of the things that I appreciate is that in Y Sports, no one plays the bench.  They get a lot of play time, which for us translates as P.E. :-)
For our family and friends lurking about, our spring game schedule looks like this:
Nathan and Dylan Team #61
4/22  5:00 
4/24  5:00*
4/30  5:00*
5/1     5:00*
5/7     5:00* (@ Coffeen)
5/12   4:00
5/14   5:00*
Jordan Team #68
4/24 6:00*
4/30 6:00*
5/01  6:00*
5/07  6:00* (@ Coffeen)
5/14  6:00* 
5/18 5:00 - 7:00 Round Robin
* The games with astericks are when both boys' teams play back to back.  So, if you want to see all the boys play, these are great games to catch. I thought Luke did a great job scheduling! It makes it easier on me. :-) Plus, we bumped Dylan up a grade level to play with Nathan on the 4/5 homeschool team. 
All games are at the Y, unless noted.  We play 22 and 25 minute halves.  If it is raining, be sure to check the website for cancellations.  We hope to see you on the field!

Tot School ~ Sensory Exploration and Sunflower Hand Prints

~Elli is 27 months old ~
Much of our Tot School over the last two weeks have been doing school some of Malachi's preschool activities centered around the letter S. Here is what we have been up to since I last posted.
We have had some beautiful weather and enjoyed a couple trips to the park that is only a half a block away.
Elli loves to swing, slide, climb and hang. She is very brave and adventurous. I guess having 4 older brothers has a little to do with that!
We played "colors" as Elli calls it. We drew on the sidewalk with colored chalk.
We made unleavened bread together one day last week and cut it into butterfly shapes. She loved this, but I had to explain that they were not cookies!
I took these pictures because I thought it was so sweet that she wanted Dylan to play with her. He is explaining that he is reading a book. So, she wanted him to read to her.
Here we are doing some sensory exploration with sand. She loved feeling the sand as she seemed so content and peaceful just running her hands through the sand.
We made a sandpaper S.
And handprint sunflowers.
We did some more activities that I will post with Mali's preschool post soon. Now that the weather is looking like spring is really here, I am excited to do more activities outside. I am also looking forward to doing some fun lessons based on the book A Very Hungry Caterpillar with Elli in the coming weeks.
To see more Tot School posts click here to see more of Elli's and here to see what others are doing for Tot School.

Geography Through Literature

We have completed our 2 year trip around the world, exploring countries and cultures and for the rest of the school year, we will be doing a unit study on the book, Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne. 
Our objective:
  • To make the learning of geography and social studies fun and interesting by using literature.
We will be mapping the journey of Phileas Fogg and his servant, Passepartout as they travel around the world.  We will use the unit study from the Trail Guide to World Geography, by Cindy Wiggers as a guide to our discussions and map work. We hope this will be a great review of our travels around the world!