A cicada emerges from its exoskeleton. Photo by Katydid.
This week we had a few "cool" days (in the 80's) so we spent more time outside. The twins and Chipmunk fought ants and caught caterpillars. One of the caterpillars they caught may have been a cabbage white caterpillar, and they spent an entire morning counting and pooling their money so they could buy cabbage to feed it. Alas, the poor creature was "wounded" (or so I was told) and did not survive the day. Katydid surreptitiously dumped it outside. The boys were again focused on their ongoing battle with the billions of ants that populate our yard anyway.
Farmerboy tamed chickens. I think the one he's holding may be named Domino. She's a Dominque, a breed we remain partial to because they're like cats, only more useful. The chicken heading into the hole in the stall door is a Salmon Falverole affectionately known as "Runt". As a chick she developed a lot later than the other birds, so much so that we thought there was something wrong with her and that we might have to cull her. Instead we fed her vitamins. She survived a dog attack and is now one of the chickens with the most interesting personality.
(If you don't have chickens, you might not realize that they can have interesting personalities. But some of them do.
Also, did you remember that our barn used to be a weird sort of mauve and tan color? Probably not, considering how little I've posted in the past year. If you don't remember the weird mauve color it used to be, you won't know how much improved the green is. Just trust me.)
FB also spent a considerable amount of time working on a Lego coral reef. We finished reading Pagoo last week and this week we moved on to One Small Square: Coral Reef, mostly because it came in the mail finally and because when I looked inside, the word LEGO jumped out at me. I'd ordered it from Winterpromise a long time ago, along with some other books, including Atlas of World History. The other books came, but the Atlas and the One Small Square book did not. For over a month. (I was reading a blog post the other day in which the writer and various commenters led me to believe that this situation was not uncommon with Winterpromise.) Anyway, at least it was a nice surprise to open a box with interesting books in it that I wasn't really expecting. Coral Reef suggests using Legos to build corals, and of course that was all the encouragement FB needed. Here you see staghorn coral being feasted upon by a Crown of Thorns Starfish, while a giant clam resides nearby, hiding a pearl. Katydid told him clams didn't make pearls, but that didn't really seem to deter him. I think he's claiming artistic license on this one.
It's all about the Great Barrier Reef. And he watched this National Geographic Great Barrier Reef video. And a bunch of the other videos on the same page, too. And now I have heard that he wants to be a diver. Which means he'll be wanting more swimming lessons, I guess.
It was a marine biology week for Katydid (age 12/7th-ish grade now) as well. She seems to naturally concentrate on one subject for a while, then move on to the next one. Over the course of a year, if left largely to her own devices, she usually acquires a pretty well-rounded education. But if you looked at it on the level of the week, you might not see that. This week was one of those weeks. It seemed like every time I saw her working, she was working on marine biology. She and FB played some of these BBC Sea Life games in addition to the work she did using Seaside Naturalist: A Guide to Study at the Seashore. She told me she "accidentally" wrote a report while she was trying to take notes.
Gareth works in a similar fashion, except intensified by several degrees. This week was all about geography for him, considering that we got that new atlas and he's reading Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies , and writing and science fiction. He and Katydid are working on the Other Worlds curriculum together. He's also moving at a good pace through Jacobs Geometry with the aid of the Ask. Dr. Callahan DVDs and syllabus. I must say that this is a relief to both of us after all the wrestling with algebra. This week was a further focus on deductive proof.
The younger boys had a "math morning" this week... I think it was Thursday, when it stormed all morning. It wasn't planned; math was just what they wanted to work on. I do try to work on math daily with the K-3 set, but a) that's not usually a problem with Pop, who will tell you that he has a "math brain" and b) Thursday morning they just wanted to keep going with various mathematical activities.
I put out some pattern squares on the table. I made a flower. Nobody could guess what it was. (Pop: "A satellite? Radar?") FB sat down and immediately put all the squares in a battle array and then informed his brothers of the rules to the game, if they should wish to play. Of course they did, and of course they immediately protested that it wasn't fair because FB had all the soldiers. So... we spent some time figuring out how many soldiers FB actually had (beginning multiplication, multi-digit addition, regrouping, then division when he split them up). I only had to break up a few fist fights before we were finished.
We are doing lots of schooly stuff every day, but it is still summer time. My garden this summer has become an abysmal failure -- well, "abysmal" may be a little strong, but it's a tempting word to use when squash bugs destroy half of everything you planted and even your green beans don't really bear. Anyway, there are several Bartlett pear trees in our neighborhood, and they're getting ripe this time of year, and today one of our neighbors was cutting grass for another neighbor, who has a tree loaded with pears but doesn't use them, and he said we could have the pears if the kids would come get them. So I sent the three oldest over with the cooler on wheels, and even though one cooler full was probably enough, our neighbor said the kids should dump their load and come back for more. I'm not sure how much this is -- a bushel and a half? Two bushels? Or what I'm going to do with them either, considering that Bartlett pears tend to be hard as rocks. But I figure they might be good for preserves or pear butter.