Friday, October 01, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: O Canada!

Confession time, we actually finished up our unit on Canada last week BUT my small group at church was doing a media fast, so no blog for me. (This week, we started on South America and Brazil, but I like posting 'unit wrap ups' instead of 'weekly wrap ups'.)

Here were some of our favorite projects and activities.

Xylem and Phloem and Celery, Oh My!

This was an great demonstration of xylem in plants. We each took a fresh stalk of celery with leaves, and broke two inches off the bottom of the stalk, pulling the ragged strands away with the broken stalk. Those long stringy things in celery are actually the xylem. Did you know that? With our fingernails, we pulled out the rest of the xylem strings from the back side of the celery stalk. We took a second stalk, and carefully cut two inches off the bottom. We labeled glasses (with xylem and no xylem and the initial of our names) and put the celery stalks in the appropriate glass with a couple inches of water. After two days, I thought the experiment was a dud. But in another couple of days, there was a big difference in the celery stalks. (I don't have an after photo, cause a few years from now, do I really want a photo of a couple stalks of wilted celery sitting around on my hard drive?)

And, in case you are wondering what in the world celery has to do with Canada, we had been talking about Canada's vast forests and the anatomy of a tree. We were learning about the layers in the trunk of a tree....bark, phloem, xylem.

Northern Lights

Cause what would a study of Canada be without learning about the Northern Lights? After reading about what causes them, we looked at pictures (courtesy of google image again). The kids drew their own northern lights on dark blue construction paper using my set of oil pastels. (We practiced some different blending techniques on scrap paper first.)

Owls in the Family

My Father's World recommends a different set of books as a read aloud, but I got one, and found it dry. So, we've been reading other chapter books aloud. (Sweetling, of course, doesn't need read to, but I've really enjoyed having my girl snuggle up beside me for a story time again.)

Our read-aloud for the Canada study is Owls in the Family, by Farley Mowat, and is based on the author's own experiences growing up in Saskatoon, Sashkatchewan, surrounded by the prairies and the sloughs. The author, as a boy of about ten, and his best friend adopt two orphaned owls, who create a bit a havoc in the home, but eventually become part of the family. And Sweetling, if you are reading this, that doesn't really count as a spoiler, does it?

Blueberry Bake

No pictures of this one, but we made a blueberry bake, that was a little like a cobbler. Sadly, I went with the recipe in our A Trip Around the World booklet for a "Canadian Blueberry Bake", and I think it was a little tart. Should have gone with a good old fashioned southern cobbler.


This one has nothing to do with Canada. We went for a nature walk along the shore of the Miami River. We've been to this particular park, Heritage Park, before, and its a great place to explore. This time, the weather has been so dry, we could literally walk out on the river bed. We saw tons, tons of crayfish among the rocks in the shallow water. Did you know these little guys swim backward when spooked? They shoot backward through the water in a flash. It was pretty surprising the first time something flew past my foot as we were wading. We spent a happy afternoon watching the crayfish crawl around.

See that concrete ramp in the background? That's a canoe and kayak ramp. It usually goes down to the water. See the expanse of rocks between the camera and the ramp? That's the dried up river bed.

This blurry bit of nothing was my attempt at photographing a crayfish. Do you see a crayfish? I don't. But he was there when I snapped the photo.

All in all, a happy afternoon was spent wading in the shallow river water by a rock bank watching all our new crayfish friends. (No, we didn't catch them or pick them up. My sense of adventure does not extend quite that far.)

Check out what others have done this week on Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

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