Friday, January 29, 2016

Week 35 - Schooling at the Beach, Rainforests and Jellyfish

We had a pretty good week. We enjoyed the view from our room all week.   There were some nasty rain a couple days, but even that was pretty while staring at the ocean.

I finished up my first 30 days of the Whole 30 Diet.  I think I am going to continue with this diet.  Joe has said he is going to give it a try too.  So I am going to keep chugging along and helping Joe change around too.  We are hoping to travel with him a few more weeks before he will be gone for a while overseas.

On Sunday we went with Daddy to a local science museum in Palm Beach.  It was very small, but the kids enjoyed the few interactive activities.

I introduced Caty to Sudoku this week.  She is getting better and better with thinking games, so I thought this would be a good time to sneak this one in on her.  She had so much fun with it.

In History we read more about the Castillo de San Marcos that we visited last Sunday.  We also looked up more on Coquina, which is an unbelievable building material.

Then I had them try to build the fort in Minecraft...

On Tuesday we went to Zoo Miami and met up with a student on our Homeschool with Minecraft server.

This large iguana is in the wild.  It was very cool to see.  We saw quite a few!

Hanging at the park with our friend...

During one of the storms, a bunch of Portuguese Man-o-War were washed up on the beach.  It was quite a sight.

We found lots of sponges and coral also.

Caty is really taking off with reading this month.  She is reading up a storm and is making improvements.  She is at a late kindergarten level.  She still struggles in many ways, but has been making great improvements.  She also told me that she has now decided that she likes reading.

What a week in math.....ugh!!  I have Caty working on early multiplication/division.  Lydia is working on decimals, and Brayden is working on long division with remainders.    Math was a bit stressful for me this week.

In the girls Sassafrass science, we worked on a rainforest habitat.  We talked about various animals including sloths, poison dart frog, and the blue morpho butterfly.  We also talked about the different levels of the rainforest.

Our January reading challenge is almost over.  It's been a bit of a struggle to keep them on top of this, but I am happy that we did.  I really think it has helped Caty.  They are all enjoying the balcony reading.  How are we ever going to go back to Ohio?!?!?

In history we also covered the start of the Pennsylvania and Maryland Colonies.

The girls started a new writing program.  We are getting a chance to review Here to Help Learning Homeschool writing curriculum.  The girls are pretty excited to get started.

We had a good week and look forward to one more week at the beach!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful week!!  Linking up with other moms at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tap My Trees - Maple Sugaring At Home Review

Every year we do a short unit study on maple syrup.  We look at the history of maple syrup and the methods used by both the Native Americans and also the Colonists.  All the kids looks forward to it.  After all, who doesn't look forward to such a yummy unit study.  We all know that tasting is a must when dealing with maple syrup.  Well this year we were given the fortunate opportunity to review the Maple Sugaring Starter Kit with Aluminum Buckets from Tap My Trees.

We tried unsuccessfully to put together the materials a few years ago to tap the maple trees in our yard.  I made the list of suggested materials for inexperienced maple syrup tappers, and we went looking.  We had to make do with what materials we could find.  And unfortunately, none of the materials we found were successful in our attempt.  We got very frustrated and then never finished even attempting the project.  We bought locally made maple syrup instead.  I have always wanted to try again, but the thought of the time and expense did not make me want to even try this project again.  Until we received this easy-to-use kit.

I was very impressed when we opened our package from Tap My Trees.  

Everything came in well wrapped and a wonderful Guidebook was also included. 

The Maple Sugaring Starter Kit with Aluminum Buckets ($109.95) includes:

  • 3 - 2 gallon aluminum Buckets tat are to collect the sap.
  • 3 Metal Lids for the buckets. These prevent dirt and precipitation from getting into your bucket 
  • 3 Spiles (taps).. These stainless steel spiles or taps can be inserted into drilled hole to transfer sap into the bucket
  • 3 aluminum hooks: These allow you to hook your bucket to the spiles.
  • Maple Sugaring at Home book: This guide provides step-by-step instruction (complete with pictures) to tap your maple trees. Includes information on how to identify your maple trees, how to tap trees, collection and storage of sap, uses for maple sap including how to make maple syrup, and frequently asked questions.
  • 1 Drill Bit: 7/16 drill bit with 3/8 shank used to drill tap hole into your maple tree
  • Cheesecloth: Used to filter any solids (such as pieces of bark) when transferring sap from the collection bucket to a storage container.
My husband was greatly impressed that the kit includes the drill bit even.  He didn't need to go looking through all his tools to find the bit that would be the right size.  

First we read through the Maple Sugaring at Home Guide booklet.  This booklet included is a great guide for anyone new to Maple Syrup collection or even those who are more experienced.  It's not just a page of directions for how to tap the trees.  It is packed full information on tree types and identification methods, ideal locations to put your buckets for optimal collection, and frequently asked questions that you might have about this experience. 

Since basically everything but the drill was included in kit, we were easily able to double check the measurements of our tree and within 10 minutes we had the tree tapped.

Instructions are given to mark your drill bit so that you do not drill too deep into your tree.  We easily tapped the spile into the tree.  There is a place for the bucket hook.  And the lid snapped on easily.

Now our weather and tree did not provide us much in the terms of sap.  We still have our trees tapped and hoping for the ability to actually getting to boil some sap and attempt to make our syrup.  I guess we can thank the El Nino weather this year for that.

But this process has been so much more positive that I wouldn't mind doing it again next year.  

Would I recommend the Maple Sugaring Starter Kit with Aluminum Buckets from Tap My Trees?  Absolutely!!!  This kit is packed full of information and equipment.  It is high quality materials, that are made to be reused.  You can easily clean up the materials and store them for use the next year.  The investment that would be made with this kit is one that will pay off in savings from multiple years of making your own maple syrup.  As long as you clean the equipment before storing each year, it will last you for many maple sugaring seasons.

The Maple Sugaring Starter Kit with Aluminum Buckets from Tap My Trees would make a great addition to a maple syrup study unit to easily allow you to add science and history together and or you could really round out any unit study on pioneer life or even Native American studies.  

There were a several other members of the Schoolhouse Review that were given the opportunity to try out the Maple Sugaring Starter Kit with Aluminum Buckets from Tap My Trees.  To see how they enjoyed and used this product in their home, take a few moments and hop over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Tap My Trees Review
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Week 34 - Florida Bound and We don't want to leave!!

On our way down, we marked 3 more new states on our map.  We went through South Carolina and Georgia.  We had just learned about them in our state study.   And of course, none of the kids had been to Florida yet!

We were very fortunate to meet up with one of the kiddos that play on the Homeschool with Minecraft server with the kids!!  We met them in St. Augustine and explored a little of the history of the Spanish colony there, before we finished our trip to Fort Lauderdale.

It was great to spend the day with this wonderful family!!

We were very fortunate to get a hotel room overlooking the beach!!!  So our first week down here, I decided to do school 3 days and partial loads, because we were all enjoying the sunshine and ocean.  The hotel also has a heated pool.  It was chilly with the wind, but the ocean has been warm and we have been enjoying playing in the surf.

We have been eating our breakfast and lunch on the balcony.
 Enjoying the beach.

Lydia doing her reading.

We played games like Scrambled States of America and Uno of course.

Lydia and I played Tri-FACT-A  - Multiplication and Division Game.

Even Brayden is out on the beach.  He normally hates it.  He is on the hunt for the coolest shells.  He still won't get in the water though.

Playing UNO with Daddy.

We got Ice Cream after we went to a local nature center in Hollywood, FL.

Schoolwork is best done on the balcony also!

They live such a troubled life!

Caty worked on division in her math this week.  We used a combination of her Saxon workbook and also for practice.  I forgot our math manipulatives, so CTC was helpful in allowing her to divide out the problems easier.  She also learned more about reading a map at the zoo or amusement park.

Joey and Brayden kept chugging along in their normal work.  They finished up and enjoyed the lighter workload this week.

Lydia worked on division with remainders and was very proud of herself when it clicked almost immediately!!

The girls and I learned about farm habitats this week in our Sassafrass Twins adventures.  We didn't do any experiments this week.  The suggested experiments were things we had done before, and to be honest.....we wanted to be in the sand.  I figured we learned more about the Everglades habitats this week too.  So we were learning a lot.

One day we went to the Anne Kolbe Nature Center.  We were learning more about the Everglades and we were hoping to see some manatees.  But it was too chilly.  We did get to see mangrove crabs and also heard snapping shrimp on our walk.  It was very neat.  We didn't get to see any manatees, it was a bit chilly that day.  But we are still hoping to see some in the wild on our adventures!

A homeschool friend shared with me about Homeschool Days at LEGOland in Winterhaven.  It was quite a drive for me, but so worth it.  I got tickets for all 5 of us for $80.00!!!  So it was well worth it.

We went to a science museum in Fort Lauderdale and were horribly disappointed in it.  We saved it for when we picked Daddy up from work.  It was just a disappointing experience.  They charge an outrageous price for what you see.  I was hoping for an Everglades experience before we went on the airboat ride, but we didn't get that.  Their "Airboat Adventure" was nothing more than a video with an airboat that jerked us around while watching a video.  On Saturday we went on an airboat ride and it was nothing like that ride at the Museum.

I will post more about our adventures we had this next week.  We are making plans for this next week and plan to meet another friend that lives near here!!  We are super excited!

Hope everyone had a great week!

Linking up with other moms at:

Weekly Wrap-Up