18 April 2012

Tempus fugit!

IMG_0864-001One of the fun things about unschooling is that we don’t have a set schedule or a list of tasks that need to be done at any given place or time.  If something comes up, we can run with it.  Last weekend Miss Bean and I were reading a book that was talking about a park with a sundial.  She asked what a sundial is and we looked it up on Wikipedia and found some pictures of sundials.  I tried to explain how they worked, but it was pretty clear that it just wasn’t clicking, so I promised her that we would make a sundial on the next sunny day.

Sadly, we went through several gray, cloudy days, but today the sun was shining brightly, so we dug out the chalk bucket and had some fun.  When we started, I drew around her feet so she could stand in the same place every time.  Then I traced around her shadow.  We set an alarm clock to ring every hour and then ran outside to draw a silhouette.  Little brother didn’t want to be left out so we did him too.  The picture is actually Beeb’s sundial since it ended up to be a bit easier to photograph.  Bean’s outlines crossed between the sidewalk and the driveway and I just couldn’t get a decent picture.  As it was, I had to crank up the contrast on Beeb’s to be able to see the chalk.

She now understands better how the sun moves across the sky during the day and how the shadows get longer as the sun moves from more overhead to closer to the horizon.  If the sun cooperates tomorrow and it doesn’t rain and wash the chalk away overnight, we’re going to try and go outside at a random time and see how close we can get to guessing what time it is by comparing the shadow to the chalk outlines.

17 April 2012

Wildlife, Part Two: Ants in our Pants

Mr. Beeb is our resident bug boy.  Last summer, when we would go pick up our CSA veggies, Beeb would be on his belly on the slab of concrete in front of the barn.  There were some anthills in the cracks and Beeb would put his hands in front of the ants so they could climb up on his arms.  By the time I was done collecting veggies, he would be covered in ants and transfixed watching them crawl around.  I would brush him off and off we would go until next week.  As as result of this fascination, we went a but buggy for his fourth birthday last September.  He got a bug box for collecting bugs and a big (orange) magnifying glass for studying bugs, as well as a gel-filled ant farm.  Being the johnny-on-the-spot that I am (Blogging about a September birthday in April?  Shush.), I didn’t get around to ordering his ants for a couple of months.  Immediately, I got an email saying that our ants wouldn’t be shipped until the weather was reliably warm enough to keep them from turning into antcicles.  Rats.  But patience is a virtue.  We finally got the ants toward the end of March and put them in their house:


I don’t think he likes them, do you?


That week when we went to the park to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather, the first thing he did is make his own anthill in the sand.  It’s in the foreground on the right.  The light was too flat to get a decent picture, but he’s pretty proud of it, so I tried anyway.


At home he watched them dig, providing a running commentary for the rest of us: "Look how good they doin' mama!"

So inspired, they dug…


…and dug…


…and dug…


Until they had dug all the passages they wanted:


All of the stuff they dug up ended up at one end because we took them to the park to show our homeschool friends and they got blown off the picnic table.

He still doesn’t seem to like them much!