Our Body : the skeletal system

The Skeletal System was the first body system we studied.  We made a skeleton from this book, but I made copies in card stock, so it would be sturdier and last longer.  And instead of taping the bones together (with tape), which would not make them very flexible, we put brads instead.


We then worked with some owl pellets we picked last summer when we were in Idaho.  The kids had done a lab with Mark a couple of years ago, so they knew what they were looking for.  It is always fun to look and see what you find though.

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If you have any resources you’ve used when you’ve studied the human body, or owl pellets, or the skeletal system, please do add them here in the comments section of this post.  It will be great to have more resources for future reference.   Thanks for stopping by.

the tree goes down


Few weeks ago, one Saturday afternoon, we are driving home and we can’t turn on our street.  There is a police car in the corner closing the road.  My heart jumps for a bit.  But it is the tree in our neighbors front yard.  It’s falling.  It has been falling for few years now.  But now, it was really falling.  Do you see how it’s leaning?  Luckily there’s no damage yet.


Leaning towards the street, it was moving.  Falling.  Slowly.  It had been falling actually, for few days, and none of us had notice. Except the kids.  Siena and Lucas told us later, that they thought it was fun that now they had a little hill on the sidewalk to skate over.  The roots were pulling the cement up.


We parked around the block, and walked home.  Then we watched the action from far away.

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It was a winter day for sure.  But it got dark all of sudden.  It started to pour.  As if the Earth was showing her sadness.



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A black walnut.

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It was sad and hard to see it go down.  That tree has been there for many decades.  We’ve seen it for two.  It’s been there.  For us, it has always been there.  It was the base and the edge of many games my kids played.  It was a landmark for our family since the kids were young.  “Don’t go further than our friends’ tree.” “Make sure you can see the tree.” “Turn around at the tree”

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And just how quickly the City crew came, they were cleaning and they were done, in just over an hour. Dozens and dozens of years in history marked in this tree, down in just minutes.  But now safer for everyone around.  And with a new stomp, new memories and new games I’m sure will come of it.


We even got few bits of it. For some more playing of our own.  New gnome houses, new island, new houses, who knows what will come of it.  New stories begin.

signs of spring in March


The sun comes out and we think spring is here to stay.  Deep in our heart, we know, we totally know, it’s just a tease.  More rain is yet to come.  But for now, and maybe because of this, we know we better go outside and hang out.  Warm our shoulders and our backs.  Sit down and enjoy the sun rays touching our bodies.  Enjoy the birds and the flowers waking up too.  It is a beautiful time this one, here in our Portland of the West Coast.


Mason bees have also hatched from the little house we have.

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And other changes are sure signs that spring is on its way.

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We had beautiful blue skies the other day.  The sun shining, the kids bare feet, outside playing all day.  We even had our first lunch and dinner outside.

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But the rain is back now.  Just a little longer.  We all knew that, right deep in our hearts, we knew she was coming.  We knew these sunny, springy days were just that.  A little something to keep us going until the real sunshine comes.  I enjoyed it thoroughly and I am enjoying the spring showers as well.

Our Science Fair


Last week we had our Fifth Homeschool Science Fair.  I’ve organized it every year, because my kids want to participate and do an experiment.

It all started 6 years ago or more, when Siena wanted to have a science fair she could participate in.  She wanted to go, because Mark had taken his students to science fairs for many years, and we had gone to see the students and him at the fairs when they were in town.  It is always fun to see the students excited to share what they have learned.  Stay for the award ceremony, and see all the excitement.

So I started looking for a homeschool group that organized a science fair in town, but I didn’t find anybody back then.  So I started working.  I looked for large enough space to host few families with a minimum charge, and hopefully free.

I didn’t find anything in the area for over a year, until I asked the great folks of Trackers and they gladly offered their space for us to gather.


Last year we had a large group and so we did the year before.


This year was our fifth year, and we’ve grown every time.

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The kids have grown too! We’ve seen some of the same families for few years now, and it’s been fun to see the kids grow up, and with that, their experiments get more complicated.

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What a treat it is.

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And every year, there are new experiments to be tested.

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Some of them we even get to “test” (taste!) at the fair.

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Some are “dangerous”…


And some are plain ol’ magic.


We gather and celebrate together.  We celebrate their new knowledge gained, their efforts, their ideas, their creativity.  It is a really fun evening for everyone.

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And then at home, we get to celebrate in family by reading the comments they each got.  It is such a fun and supportive group.  A treat and a great way to learn.

Our Body : Taste


To study the sense of taste, we first mapped the taste buds in our tongue.  For that, we had to try some flavors to see where they were tasted the strongest.


Siena and Lucas didn’t know what the tastes they were testing were.  They had to dip q-tips in each flavor and then touch their tongue and try to find where they tasted that flavored the strongest.  That would be where the receptors for that taste are.


Then, they wrote down in the tongue’s drawing where they tasted that flavored the strongest.  They are mapping their tongue.


With a new q-tip, they tried another flavor.

DSC_0214-small DSC_0215-smallSour?

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DSC_0211-smallThey wrote down after each taste.

DSC_0217-smallAnd drank some water after each taste too.

DSC_0232-smallAfter they tried all the flavors they had a map of their tongue.  So cool!

We also made a paper project from one of the books we’ve been using.  Some of the projects in it are a little more complicated than what we want.  Some, Siena has found a better way to make them, to make them look better and last longer.  But this one, was a fun one.

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Siena and Lucas also asked their friends which one was their favorite flavor of snow cone. Coconut won.  Afterwards, they made a table to show the flavors chosen.


What is your favorite flavor?

making some more

Sometimes Siena has the making bug.  I totally understand.  If there’s been days that we haven’t created much, it starts to build up.  I get that same bug.

One day she was looking through the parachute bracelets she and Lucas had made last summer, and decided she wanted to learn to make different knots. We worked together with the bracelets back then, but I’ve never done any other kind of knots.  So, with the amazing internet and youtube in front of us, she found what she was looking for.

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It took few tries, but it worked great.

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Lots of fun.


After creating our first silk paintings last fall, I wanted to make some more.


There is a store by our house that has challenges every month with a specific supply they carry.  Siena has been trying to win since they started these last summer, and she’s still working on it.  And most times, I work with her so we can have more chances to win.

DSC_0246-smallWe’ll see what we come up with next.  Or if we’ll ever win.  You gotta keep trying!  Right?


Siena made this weaving out of crawling blackberries.  She invented this design all on her own.

DSC_0040-smallAnd a blackberry snowflake. (Please, never mind our dirty windows in the background.)


And a little something for a friend on her birthday delivered on her steps.  Pansies (they are called Pensamientos (“thoughts”) in Spanish), and chai concentrate that I’ve tweaked a little (depending on what spices I have on hand) and have used for a long while inspired by Heather from Beauty That Moves, and know she likes.

Hope you are making something today!

a new carder


For years now (6, 10, 15? not sure) I’ve thought it would be fun to have a drum carder.  I borrowed one for a month or so few years ago, and Siena and I had fun with it.

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I have so much wool around.  Some that have to be washed.  Other bags, waiting to be carded.  All around our house.  In the basement, in the attic, in the art studio… all around, as if I wanted it to look like less (shhhh, don’t tell.)  Not a bad idea, huh?  But it doesn’t work.  It’s still there waiting.  All over our house.


I’ve shown the kids how to card it with hand carders.  We’ve carded many times.  I bought dog brushes, because they are smaller, easier to handle for littler hands.  It works great.  But there’s only so much we end up carding each time.  Not nearly enough to make a dent in our (my) stash.

So, after years of thinking, weighing the pros and cons (as if there were any!) I finally decided I’d get a drum carder.  I went local, cheaper, knowing it might not be as great quality as the most expensive brands, but I liked they are made here in Oregon, not far from Portland.

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It is really, lots of fun! So much easier, much faster than carding by hand.  I’d like to card the wool I have of the same sheep at once, before I start spinning it.  Not sure what we’ll make with it, but we are carding!  And it’s fun.


It comes out so beautiful!  Look!



Fluffy as clouds.

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As I was carding the other day, Mark calls me and shows me what he’s brought out.


Yes, some of my wool that has been in the middle of the basement stored for a long while.   (read ‘years’)  Yup! I’ll get to them soon.  As soon as I finish the other bags and a basket from the art studio!

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Because there’s more from where that bag of wool came from.  I know.  Yipee!

a building

This is funny.  We’ve lived in our house, and same neighborhood for almost 20 years.  It was only a few years ago that I saw, I mean, I really saw, this building’s name.  It is in a prominent corner of our neighborhood, and find it so funny it is named that.  It makes me laugh every time I pass it.


I wonder how come it was named this.  Is that a real person? Is it a man or a woman? It doesn’t really matter actually.  It is just funny.  I wonder if it has been since 1925.  That would be really funny.


math : geometry

We use our public library a lot.  This might be an understatement.

I used to work at the library before I had kids and new a lot of the staff working there, even at our local branch.  But they know me, and they know my kids and my whole family, because we are there often, and use their services, not because I used to work there.


I think if there was an award for the person or family who checks the most books, and CDs and movies out, at once, we would win. I know we would totally win… by far!

So while doing some searching for something (not sure what I was looking at the library’s catalog) I found they had these new “Discovery Kits” in different subjects. So I put some on hold for us to check out.


The first one we received was the  “Angles and Shapes Discovery Kit.”  We had been studying multiplications table but we took a look.  We ended up studying geometry for a couple of weeks, because it inspired us.  It was a great bag filled with fun activities.  Lots of hands on ideas, great tools, good books too.  It was lots of fun.


We’ve had these wooden geometric pieces the kids used to play with for building, so I got them out.  They were a great addition to the Discovery Bag.

We learned about perimeter, and 3D shapes, and angles, and geometric shapes.  I really like when we study things at different times (years) and in different ways.  This bag, made us practice some of the ideas we already knew, but it was great help for new content as well.  If you live in our area, I would recommend you checking these bags out.  They have some holds, but it’s worth the wait, I think.


We have some friends that are moving to another country, and so this activity we did was to try to fit most of their stuff into a shipping container so they can take their things with them.  Of course, we made everything up (except the part of our friends moving to another country), but it makes it much more fun when you are working with something that could be true.  Right?


The Discovery Bag came with a geoboard (like this one), but we had these from a long while ago.  We’ve used them, mostly for playing.  This time, the kids were able to make sense of what they were making, and how to use it.  We’ll go back to them in a little while I think.  They were fun to use.

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I liked that this geometry unit was born out of “a bag from the library”.  It is something I had thought of studying some time soon, but because it was almost out of the blues, it made it much more fun to be spontaneous.

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Now we have another bag. We are having fun discovering what else we can borrow from our libraries!