Mar 032009

One of the on-going projects in Apologia Elementary Zoology 3 is to make a notebook of animal tracks. In addition, the lesson that we just finished has a project to try to collect animal tracks in your backyard using wet cement in a pan and food for bait. Hopefully, an animal will walk through the pan and leave tracks for the students to identify.

I’m up for a lot of projects, but when I saw that one I thought, "No way are we doing that!".  As it turns out, we didn’t need to. We got snow here on Sunday night. This morning (Tuesday), I looked out on my front porch to a surprise zoology project.

The problem is, we can’t tell what kind of tracks they are.

I think maybe the front foot prints are butting up against the back foot prints.

With the front and back feet moving together, it doesn’t seem like the way a dog or cat walks.

It seems like maybe a rabbit? The tracks are like a hopping animal. But here is the weirdest part. The tracks come up the porch steps…

Up the rocking chair…

And over the porch rail? What animal would do that? A cat doesn’t like the snow and might walk really funny like that. But I don’t know why a cat would wander that far in the snow. (We don’t have one.)

So, any opinions?

Jan 142009

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We are using Apologia’s Elementary Zoology Book 3 for science this year.  It is the study of land animals.  We just finished chapter 4 and completed an interesting demonstration of the relationship between populations of predator and prey, specifically the cougar vs deer population.

The experiment called for marking off a 2 ft X 2 ft square on the floor.  In that square, begin by placing 3 “deer” (2 X 2 inch paper- we printed a picture of a deer on ours).  Then, a cougar (a 6 X 3 in cardboard) was tossed into the square. The cougar has to “eat” 3 deer to survive to the next generation.  If the cougar survives, then the next generation toss 2 cougars. If the cougar doesn’t survive, use 1 cougar for the next generation.  (The assumption being that another cougar will move into the territory) For each deer that doesn’t get eaten, add 1 additional deer to the next generation.

For our experiment, we had several generations where our cougar failed to eat any deer.  That made the deer population increase dramatically.  The instructions only said to make 20 deer.  We wound up needing over 90 deer at one point in our experiment.

In this picture, there are 3 “cougars” that have been tossed. We haven’t picked up the deer that have been eaten yet.

We graphed our results in Excel. I was impressed at how well the graph demonstrates the predator/prey population relationship. First, the population of the prey begins to increase, this allows the predator population to increase. As the predator population increases, more prey will get eaten. Eventually, the predator population will fall too because there is not enough prey.

My son also did several notebook pages on the computer about the experiment.

Cougar vs Deer Population
This one is sort of a procedure page. I honestly just give him free reign most of the time and see what he comes up with. It turns out better that way! We are really loving Elementary Apologia.

May 132008

My family loves games.  I mean all of us, really love games.  If you want to see how much we love games, take a peek into our game cabinet. (It’s not as neat as I would like it to be but…)

We have a family game night once a week. (Usually) So why have I not used our love of games in our homeschool?  I really don’t know, but it seems that the idea of using games to teach has been coming at me from all directions in the last couple of weeks.

The first mention of games came through a yahoogroup.  It was an invitation to join a group called Games4Learning because they had just published a new game on their group called Globe Probe.  If you’re interested in getting the game for free, then join the group here. After I joined the group I started looking at the files and found a really fun way to study state capitals: Capital Bowling.    The idea is to deal out 10 cards. Then go through the cards one at a time and see how many you get right.  If you get all 10, then you’ve bowled a strike.  If you get less then 10 (say 7), then deal out 3 cards to replace the ones you missed.  Try to answer those additional cards.  If you get them all right, then you’ve bowled a spare.  If not, just note the total correct and deal 10 more cards.   You score the game just like bowling.  I tried it with my kids with some state flash cards that we had and they absolutely loved it.  More importantly, they learned a lot more capitals.

Last week, we completed a lesson in Exploring Creation with Botany book on fruit. One of our assignments was, you guessed it, making a game.  Here are pictures of our game called Tooty Fruity (not our idea for a title, it was in the book and we liked it)

This is the board.

Here are the cards.

The kids and I had a great time playing the game and we also learned a lot about types of fruit. My dd was studying all the cards to memorize the types so she could beat Daddy. Cheating?? I don’t think so.
OK, so maybe I’m starting to get the idea. I went to the Scholastic Warehouse Sale. (which, by the way I love. Check here to see if there’s one near you.) I found a wonderful fraction game for my daughter called Fun with Pizza Fractions.  Not only did my daughter want to play but my son did as well. 
Yesterday was my older son’s 10th birthday.  Guess what one of his gifts was.  Hmm.  Maybe another game.??

He doesn’t look too thrilled, but he does like it.

Now I’ve got to make more room in our game cabinet.

Apr 022008

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase through the link, I will receive a small commission.

We’ve had a nice couple of days again, so we’ve spent some time outdoors.  We read about pollination in Exploring Creation with Botany.  My 8 yo daughter made her notebook page outside.

Pollination Notebook Page
Here she is working on her page.
Pollination Notebook Page
And her completed page.

She used a page from the Basic-plus set of Notebooking Pages from   I was really proud of the job that she did.


My older son much prefers making his notebook pages on the computer.  He’s a terrific artist, but he prefers typing to writing so much that he doesn’t like to do notebooking on paper.  So, for the most part, I let him use the computer.

Pollination Notebook Page
10 year old ds notebook page

I trimmed my lavender plant (a lot) and have lots of lavender drying in the attic.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it all.  I might use it in a wreath if it dries well.  DD wants to put some in soap.  I’m not sure what I need to do with it first to use in soap.  I have the  Your Backyard Herb Garden. I need to check out what to do with dried lavender leaves in there.


Then I cranked up the Mantis tiller (well, I can’t crank it, I had to wait for dh) and tilled up a little patch for spinach.  This is quite an experiment for me.  I’ve not had great success with gardening in the past, but I really want to try it again.  We have tomato and pepper plants that we’re growing from seed in the light hut.  So far one tomato plant has sprouted.