Sunday, October 26, 2014

Night Nature Study: A Walk in the Dark

Fall has suddenly splashed out again in all its glory and we have been outside more than in. Last night it was incredibly blustery and D,7 thought it seemed a little spooky, so we grabbed a lantern and went for a night walk.

Picture this: The silence of the countryside, broken only by the gusts of wind, the rustle of falling leaves, the howl of coyotes and loons down by the lake. It was cloudy, almost pitch black until our eyes adjusted, and quite magical.

night nature walk
 Quick, spot the family of X-Files fans below.
night nature walk
night nature walk
We walked along, leaves crunching underfoot and gravel scraping on the alvars, until we reached our path home. What a great experience in the crisp fall night air!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How To Make Natural Dye With Kids

 It's Saturday Science day! Along with Suzy Homeschooler, Little Bins For Little Hands, Lemon Lime Adventures, Stir the Wonder, and The Joys of Boys, we host this link-up every Saturday and are happy to share and pin your posts when you join in the fun.

This week, we had the "perfect storm" of science and crafting: I uncovered a whack of thick white cotton sheets from a previously unpacked box, and our Concorde grape vines suddenly produced a massive amount of fruit during some unexpectedly warm weather. Naturally, we decided to make a huge mess try making some natural dye.
how to make natural dyes with your kids

This is so simple that you could do it with your preschooler if you wanted too, although you'd have to keep a close eye on their proximity to the hot stuff. WEAR OLD CLOTHING!!!! Or let the kid run around in their undies if it's warm enough. If you are going somewhere respectable later, smear a light coating of petroleum jelly on their hands, ears, neck and face before starting.
how to make natural dyes with your kids

Fill a large pot with water and grapes (we did about 2 cups of grapes for every 4 cups of water). Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 5-15 minutes depending on the intensity you want. Then take it outside, (no way was I letting people loose with indelible purple in the kitchen!), let it cool a bit and dunk your fabric in. D wanted to tye-dye his piece; M tried to make a graduated effect by dunking different sections for longer or shorter periods of time.

how to make natural dyes with your kids

how to make natural dyes with your kids

how to make natural dyes with your kids

Once you have the colour you want, remove it from the pot and let it cool. Wring it out and hang to dry. Stand well away from the flapping fabric and admire, then head indoors to attempt to scrub your children until they look less like the kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who ate the gum.
how to make natural dyes with your kids
This is after several good washes. Excuse the newly added dirt; you can't keep the child away from it.

Variations: use a wax resist image, or try this with marigolds or onions or cranberries or red cabbage or goldenrod instead.

Check out the great posts by my co-hosts this week:
Child-Guided Research from Suzy Homeschooler
Pumpkin Sensory Science Activities For Kids from Little Bins For Little Hands


Saturday, September 20, 2014

5 Awesome Pumpkin Science Experiments For Kids

I am thrilled to be back hosting Saturday Science after a whole summer away from blogging! My co-hosts are Stir The Wonder, Lemon Lime Adventures, Little Bins For Little Hands, P Is For Preschooler, and Suzy Homemaker.

It coincides with our garden's gourd explosion - seriously, if you planted even one pumpkin or zucchini seed this year you know exactly what I mean. We are shredding, pureeing, cooking and still we have more pumpkins than we know what to do with.....until now.
pumpkin science experiments for kids

Here are the 5 most fantastic, disgusting, or spectacular pumpkin science experiments for kids that I could dig up on the internet. D, 6, wants to do them all...preferably several times over!

1. Exploding Pumpkins. So incredibly entertaining! Not for the unsupervised or faint of heart!

2. Glowing Pumpkins. A harvest moon and a bunch of kids running around in the dark? Yes please.

3. Oozing pumpkins.  Yet another reason I love Steve Spangler's site.

4. Rotting Pumpkins on Kids' Activities Blog. Definitely an "outside project". Great for practice recording observations. If you also have a scavenger dog, put it out of reach!

5. Erupting Pumpkins from Growing a Jeweled Rose. A classic with a twist. We tried this and also Diet Coke and Mentos. The dogs got so excited that they had to be banned from the entertainment.

Someone may have been sampling the revolting carbonated drink during the experiment. What you don't see is him off camera spitting it out dramatically.
If you do this, try to straighten up and jump back BEFORE it sprays up your nose. I'm just saying.

Make sure you check out this week's posts by my co-hosts, too (Little Bins For Little Hands looked at pumpkin sensory science, if you want to extend your activity while using up lots of pumpkin):

Exploring Motors from Suzy Homeschooler
How Temperature Affects Solids Science Experiment from Little Bins For Little Hands
Building Structures with Candy Pumpkins from Lemon Lime Adventures

Saturday Science Blog Hop 2

Monday, August 4, 2014

How we've spent our summer vacation - AKA the Worst.(and luckiest) Summer. Ever.

This is an update post for those of you who have sent emails wondering where we've vanished to since the start of the summer. (Thank you all for caring enough to ask! It means a lot.)

There is a rare and sometimes fatal fungal illness called Blastomycosis, which grows in decomposing matter such as dried leaves, sand piles, and the like. The spores are only released when it is disturbed, and are only caught at the time they're released, not passed from one animal or person to another. The scariest thing about it is that it shows up differently in each of its victims, and it's almost impossible to pinpoint its location here in Northern Ontario.

Can you see where this is going?

Not one, not two, but 3 of our family members - both dogs and our 6 year old D- somehow ended up with it. Our beloved retriever T died in my 21 year old's arms (as he frantically performed CPR) within 3 weeks as it went all over her body inside; our big goofy Border Collie Mix may lose his eye; and in D, it went straight into his lungs.

We have the vet's quick-thinking action to thank for D's survival - no exaggeration.

On one particularly horrible day at the very beginning of July, we had both dogs at the vet and D at the hospital, literally next door for yet another x-ray for what the doctors thought was pneumonia. When the vets were telling us that tests had confirmed Blastomycosis, I happened to mention where D was. The vets dropped everything,  stayed with the dogs, and sent me running to the hospital to tell the doctors to run a test on D. I didn't even know that people could catch it. He was admitted on the spot.

If you have ever had your child vomiting 24/7, passing out, and spiking fevers of 42+ degrees in less than 10 minutes, you know the fear we were experiencing.

This was followed the next day by a rush by ambulance to the nearest hospital who could handle the illness, a 3 hour trip which we made in half that time, lights and siren going while I watched over my unconscious little boy. 

 A month of IV medication with terrifying potential side effects, during which I slept on a ledge in his hospital room while my parents and husband and other kids held down the fort and made endless trips to the vet back at home, a loss of more than 10 % of D's already small body weight in one week, and days where he didn't recognize me due to fever and pain,  days where he was screaming from pain, and a slow return to himself, and I finally, FINALLY, was able to bring him home a few days ago.

D and our surviving dog will be on anti-fungal pills for up to a year before they will be considered cured. D is more himself again, gaining weight but still very low on energy compared to his usual self. His lungs are permanently scarred and he will have to have regular kidney and liver checks for the rest of his life. We will be burying our dog T next to her sister who we lost to cancer last year.

After a summer like this, I hope you all understand that our focus is very intently on family time at this point. I'll post as and when we do stuff and have some time to put up some pics.

Hug your kids, watch them with an eagle eye, and have a good rest of the summer.
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