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Messy Monday::Storm in the Night Art Activity

I’ve been working hard at incorporating more intentional art activities into our weeks. My girls go through phases of making things on their own, and they have used up reams of paper in their endeavors (and left little giblets all over the house, too). Art is very important to me, and I want it to be important to them, too, if they’re bent that way, so I keep at it. My goal is to include an art activity for every FIAR book we “row.” (For the uninitiated, Five in a Row books are rowed instead of read or studied, since the idea is to read them five days in a row.) Often, the art activity will be something actually suggested in Five in a Row, but I am finding that some of these activities are still a little too much for my kindergartener and preschooler. Thus, I go searching. I found this nifty little project linked over at The Crafty Crow and decided it would be a good fit for us in our rowing of Storm in the Night. Since we have read and enjoyed two of the suggested book selections already (including It Looked Like Spilt Milk which I reviewed here), I decided to introduce the girls to another one of Eric Carle’s wonderfully illustrated books, Little Cloud. In this story, the title character transforms itself into lots of shapes until called upon to perform his real job. This one seemed to me like the perfect choice for the project at hand. Eric Carle’s wonderful books are so accessible to the younger set, both in terms of text and illustrations.

Here’s a little peek into our art activity:


Cloud Book, sans any identifying information ūüėČ

Lulu writing

Filling in a blank with a little help

Louise writing

My lefty, who currently LOVES to write

Lulu bear

Five year old handwriting

Louise bear

Three year old handwriting

Storm in the Night was a great book for our first kindergarten FIAR selection. I’m waffling a little bit right now on how much I want to do with these books. I see all the lapbooking possiblities out there for these wonderful books, and my mind goes into overdrive in planning mode, but I don’t think I’m a lapbooker at heart. However, rather than think that we’re slacking because we’re not “doing” anything with these books, I’m trying to go with the original intent of the Five in a Row philosophy. Heather at Blog, She Wrote, whom I think of as the FIAR Queen, really settled my mind on this matter with this recent post.

Hum & Flutter

We had the unique experience on Saturday of attending a hummingbird banding.¬† A¬†biology professor at a nearby university participates in a study in which hummingbirds are measured, weighed, and banded each year.¬† Data is collected to determine whether the migrating Ruby Throated¬†Hummingbirds return to the same place each year.¬† The highlight of the experience was that the girls each got to hold a hummingbird after its data ¬†had been catalogued.¬† The hummers took off so quickly that I didn’t get¬†a shot of Lulu’s, and I barely got this one¬†of Louise’s:
Louise holding butterfly

After the girls released their birds, the scientists involved took a break, and we wandered over to the cages to watch the professor demonstrate how to catch and hold a hummer:

how to hold a hummingbird
The hostess for this study is the president of our local wildflower society, and her yard and surrounding property show it. She puts a lot of effort into attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to her yard. Every time I visit some place like this, I start dreaming about what we can do in our yard to approximate a city version of such an environment. (Does anyone else¬†suffer with the affliction of “I’m interested in too many different things”?) My favorite shots of the day (aside¬†from some fun ones of the girls around her ponds and in front of her flowers) are of this beautiful butterfly:

 butterfly 1

butterfly 2

butterfly 3

butterfly 4

The zinnias and their visitors were gorgoeus–truly breathtaking! I think this one is a Monarch, at least based upon my quick perusal of National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies¬†.¬† Steady Eddie’s years of undergraduate biology study are coming in handy for me, finally.¬†

Sunflower Books and Resources

sunflower in field 2

If you’ve been reading here at Hope Is the Word for very long, you already know a little bit about our sunflower saga (part I, part II, part III).¬† You also know that not many opportunities go by that I can’t find a book for!¬† ūüėȬ† I knew for a couple of weeks that we were going to try to take a field trip to¬†the sunflower patch, so I gathered all the resources I could readily find at the library on one of our weekly trips.¬† These are the books we read:

Sunflower House, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt,¬†is the story of a family that sows their sunflower seeds in a circle, and the result is their very own sunflower house.¬† This sweet story details all the fun they have inside this house until the sunflowers begin to droop.¬† The children attempt to fix the wilting flowers, and failing that, they begin collecting and scattering the seeds against next year’s need for something bright and sunny to brighten their days.¬† This story contains a hint of foreshadowing which I thought was really neat for a story that is obviously geared to rather young children.¬† Lulu picked up on the fact that this story is similar in its ending to Miss Rumphius, which was¬†a proud Mama moment.¬† Highly recommended!

A Handful of Sunshine:¬† Growing a Sunflower by Melanie Eclare is one of those books that might seem dated pretty quickly because it has actual photographs for its illustrations (thus, clothing and hairstyles are very noticable), but it is in fact the photographs that make this book so good.¬† This is a large book–about 11 1/2 square inches on the cover–and it contains lots of close-ups.¬† There are close-ups of the little girl, Tilda, digging her hole for the sunflower seeds, a two-page spread of her planting them, a close-up of the newly sprouted plant, and best of all, the huge sunflower featured on the inside of the front and back covers.¬† The book even includes¬†a step-by-step pictorial entitled “Growing Instructions” at the end.¬† This book is especially appropriate for preschoolers due to the age of the little girl in the story and because it is very simply told.

to be like the sunI saved my favorite, which I’ve written about before, for last.¬† To Be Like the Sun by Susan Marie Swanson is by far the most abstract and poetic of the trio in today’s post, and for that reason I think it might appeal to older children better than the other two.¬† Its illustrations, though, are very simple, so it is also accessible to the younger set.¬† I wouldn’t mind adding this one to our collection, I like it so much.

I actually had great plans for some sunflowers this year in our little square foot garden.  However, we ran out of space in the beds, so we ended up planting several seeds in a large flower pot.  As the temperatures, heat indexes (indices?), and humidity soared, I went out into our backyard less and less.  It turns out that we did grow a couple of sunflowers, but I learned a valuable lesson:  these plants must require more growing room than just a flower pot.  These are the two flowers we grew:

sunflower back yard



droopy sunflower back yard

The healthy flower grew to a great height–about a foot taller than I am, and I’m about 5’8″. The poor little droopy one is about eye-level to me.
I have been inspired by reading the Handbook of Nature Study blog, and I was particularly inspired by this post on sunflowers.  Therefore, I have to credit Barb-Harmony Art Mom with clueing me in to The Great Sunflower Project, although once I mentioned it to Steady Eddie, I found out he knew about it all along.  (He is a great untapped source of scientific educational knowledge!)  This looks like something fun for next year.

In Search of Sunflowers Part III

SE & girls walking

While I meandered along, snapping pictures of all the pretty things I saw, Steady Eddie and the girls marched resolutely on in search of sunflowers.¬† One thing I love about him is his determination–he keeps at something until it’s done.¬† No sunflowers in sight?¬† Keep looking!¬†

Actually, by this time we had figured out that what we¬†had assumed¬†was the observation deck was most definitely not¬†the observation deck; what we saw looming in the distance, however, was.¬† We had a goal¬†now.¬† We still hadn’t seen the first hint of a sunflower, but we knew where we were going.¬†

observation deck view

The view from the deck:  still, no sunflowers in sight.  We had walked a fair distance by this time, and Steady Eddie was technically on his lunch break.  We decided to call it quits and return to our van.  Oh well.  At least we saw some interesting flowers and got a little bit of exercise.  I was beginning to wonder if maybe we had gotten it all wrong, that perhaps we missed the directions entirely.  When we got to the end of the road we had turned on to climb up the observation deck, a pickup truck (pulling a camper, no less) met us, and the driver rolled down his window to ask us about. . . sunflowers.  He had some senior protraits to take, and they had apparently envisioned a huge, lush field of the gigantic beauties, same as us.  Nope, nothing, we said.  He opted to keep on going down the road past the observation deck, while we headed back in the opposite direction.

My gallant husband offered to jog back to the van and drive to pick us up, and we accepted his offer.  The girls were not complaining, but I knew they were hot and tired.  I sure was. 

It was looking like Steady Eddie was going to have to call it a day at work anyway (we had spent probably a good hour and a half on this venture by now), so he decided to follow the lead of the photographer in the pickup truck and drive back in the direction we had been walking.  You already know how this ends. 

sunflower field

While they certainly weren’t what I had in mind, we were tickled to see them.¬† Only about as tall as Louise, they all hung their heavy heads.¬† (I’m sure there’s¬†a message in this somewhere.)¬†¬†

Flowers are miracles, aren’t they?¬† ¬†

sunflower in field

sunflower in field 2

Steady Eddie showed the girls the seeds. 

sunflower in hand

I call that an afternoon well spent, despite the heat.¬† Taking family outings like this is one of my favorite things to do, and it’s the part of homeschooling I look forward to the most.¬† I hope we can incorporate a lot of nature study into what we do.

You know that there has to be some books involved in this story somehow.¬† ūüôā¬† Come back on Wednesday to find out!

Read Aloud Thursday


I haven’t highlighted a nonfiction title for Read Aloud Thursday in a while, but I just couldn’t leave this one out.¬† Growing Frogs by Vivian French is a part of the Read and Wonder series by Candlewick Press, and it is a perfect fit for my little girls.¬† This is a story that incorporates lots of information, so I guess it’s actually hybrid–part nonfiction, part story.¬†¬†This book contains the main story in larger typeface and extra information in smaller.¬† Part of what makes this¬†book so appealing¬†are the lovely, bright, and kid-friendly illustrations by Alison Bartlett.¬† I’m sure that our own frog-raising experience¬† made this book more interesting to us.¬† I think this book would be a great book to transition into listening for facts in a story, etc.¬† Highly recommended!

I just knew that I had already written up the book Tiny’s Big Adventure by Martin Waddell for Read Aloud Thursday, but when I went back and did a search on my own blog, I learned that I hadn’t.¬† ūüôā¬† (Please tell me I’m not the only person who actually has to go back read her own posts to see where she’s been!)¬† Well, this one is¬†a must-read!¬† It’s the story of Tiny Mouse and Katy Mouse who go on a wheat field adventure.¬† They encounter all sorts of things, from a rabbit, to a tractor, to a boot, and timid Tiny always looks to the¬†larger and braver¬†Katy for reassurance.¬† As if simply being by the wonderfully prolific Martin Waddell isn’t enough,¬†what makes this book¬†a not-to-be-missed gem¬†are the interesting illustrations.¬† They look like woodcuts, but I just learned from reading the publication information that they are “vinyl engravings, watercolor washes, and printed wood textures,” all brought together¬†through the marvel of technology.¬† I don’t know much about all of that, I just know that these illustrations are beautiful.¬† I think this book would be especially appealing to toddlers or young preschoolers who might identify with Tiny Mouse.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked up In the Garden:¬† Who’s Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George.¬† Something about the cover made me expect a simple story that might not appeal to my (at times) persnickety listeners.¬† Although it is a simple story, I think this book did appeal to them because they can identify so much with the experience of the children in this story.¬† Siblings Christina and Jeremy are instructed by their mother to go out to the garden and gather¬†vegetables.¬† When they get to the garden, they realize something else has been there before them.¬† Every other page of text ends with the question “Who’s been here?”¬† Of course, the reader is given hints to figure out what might have preceded the children.¬† All kinds of vegetable-loving critters make an appearance in this book.¬† One great thing about this book are the large illustrations of the animals–each query of “Who’s been here?” is answered with a two-page spread of the animal that answers this question.¬† This is a great summertime read!

My children have always loved the book Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (read my thoughts here), so it follows that another take on the same folktale should be a winner, too, right?¬† The Hatseller and the Monkeys, written and illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite, is a winner for sure.¬† This time the story is set in Africa, and although the backstory is a little different, the fun is the same.¬† I must have a thing for woodcut–these illustrations are very similar to those in Tiny’s Big Adventure, so I’m assuming that they were made using a similar process.¬† I especially love that each page is bordered with black and white somersaulting monkeys.¬† This is a fun read aloud, especially if you have a gift for languages¬†since it contains several phrases in some African language.¬† ūüėČ

What’s in your book basket this week?¬† Leave a comment or a link to your blog entry in which you tell us about your family’s read alouds!¬† And as always, don’t forget about the button!


Happy Read Aloud Thursday!

In Search of Sunflowers Part I


A few weeks ago, our local newspaper published a story about two huge fields of sunflowers in a nearby wildlife preserve.¬† The sunflowers were planted to attract mourning doves and songbirds to the refuge.¬† I immediately made plans to visit this spectacle.¬† Of course, we’ve had a little more on our plate here at the House of Hope than usual, so we didn’t get to make the trip until last week.¬† Last Thursday, the girls and I made our usual post office, library, Habitat for Humanity ReStore run.¬† (My sudden interest in decorating in the shabby chic/ flea market/ junk store style is another post for another time.)¬† Then, we swung by Steady Eddie’s office to pick him up, ran through the Burger King drive thru (or through–I can’t stand using those weird spellings, even when they’re deemed acceptable by the world at large), and headed off to find our field of dreams.

We knew the approximate location of this field.¬† Steady Eddie had even looked up the article online and copied down the sketchy directions given therein on a post-it note.¬† So we drove.¬† We turned off a somewhat well-traveled county road onto a less-traveled (but paved) road, and finally, onto a gravel road.¬† Now, gravel roads are something that are a part of my childhood but something that I haven’t traversed in a while.¬† It really brought back memories while we stirred up dust.¬† We passed by a large (wet-weather?) pond and saw a heron take flight.¬† “This is going to be good,” I thought to myself.

We continued down this gravel road past a large barn and a small mobile home, which seemed to be the last outpost of civilization.¬† We drove and drove.¬† We drove some more, through fields and acres of blooming cotton plants, carefully guarded by the sentinels¬†of the South,¬†boll weevil traps.¬† The cotton fields metamorphosed into corn fields.¬† We gave up on a picnic lunch (where would we eat, anyway, out here in the the middle of all of this Southern agriculture in the August sun?) and handed the girls’ chicken nuggets back to them to enjoy¬†in their carseats.¬† We still didn’t see any sunflowers.¬†

Wait!¬† What’s that?¬† Steady Eddie remembered reading something in the article about an observation deck and a parking lot.¬† Hmmm.¬† I wouldn’t exactly have called that little shelter with signs detailing the flora and fauna of the preserve an observation deck, but that little concrete pad was most definitely a parking lot.¬† We’ll take it!

The girls finished their nuggets and I got out to snap a few pictures:

black eyed susan

dandelion wish

So we began our trek.¬† I was already mentally¬†calculating how long it would be before the girls commenced the chorus of “I’m hot!”¬† and “I’m tired of walking!” and “I want to go back to the van!” when they stopped to pick a few flowers along the way:

Louise picking

(Wouldn’t you think I’d learn by now to just enjoy the moment? ūüôā¬† )¬†

We continued walking, nary a sunflower in sight.  We did see a lot of other interesting things, though, and I was very glad to have my camera along.  I wanted to share a few of the shots I took on this hike down this long country road.

 yellow flowers

red plant

purple flower

unknown fruit with ants

It is at times like this that I really wish I knew more about the flora and fauna of my region.¬† I did learn that the purple flower above is the passion flower and the green, ant-covered fruit below it is its fruit.¬† (The Wildflowers of Alabama website from Auburn University is the best online resource I’ve found so far.)¬†

Come back on Friday to see what else we encountered on our search for sunflowers!

Read Aloud Thursday


The older I grow, the more I love nature.¬† (This¬† might explain my semi-obsession with this site.)¬† When it has been a while (as it has now) since I have been out for a wander in the woods, I can feel it.¬† Nature is restorative.¬† I think this is why I like The Curious Garden by Peter Brown so much. ¬†This charming book is the story of a little boy named Liam who loves to be outside, “even on drizzly days,”¬† despite the fact that he lives in a very dreary city where must people prefer to stay indoors.¬† One day during his exploring, he finds an elevated train track where there is a “lonely patch of color”–a few wildlflowers and plants growing there despite the adverse conditions.¬† Liam decides to become their caretaker, and over time with his care, this little garden becomes “curious”–that is, it begins to spread.¬† By the end of the story, the people in this formerly grey and depressing city are “cooperating with nature” instead of trying to keep it out.¬† I suppose there is an environmental message in here somewhere, but it’s very subtle.¬†Peter Brown’s ¬†illustrations are as important as his words in this story.¬† His color¬†palette is¬†perfect for the tone of the book.¬† I like this one a lot!¬†¬†¬†My girls like it, too, which is always a plus for a read-aloud.¬† ūüėȬ† The Curious Garden is¬†a new book, just published this year.¬† If you’d like to read more about this young author and artist, visit his really neat website.

Simple is good, right?¬† Right.¬† Every Friday, written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, is simplicity itself. ¬†It’s the sweet story of a father and his small son who have breakfast at a diner “every Friday.”¬† The book details their¬†walk to the diner and what and whom they encounter along the way.¬† The book is a nod to the simple joys of family and the importance of traditions.¬† The illustrations remind me of “Leave It to Beaver” or some other fifties-era television program.¬†¬† It turns out that Dan Yaccarino is no slouch when it comes to illustration–he has several television programs to his credit, including “The Backyardigans”.¬† Although books outnumber televisions in our home by 1000 to 1 (both literally and¬†figuratively in terms of importance), I must¬†admit that Dan Yaccarino is¬†a talented author and illustrator, and this book earns a “highly recommended” from me!

So what have you been reading together as a family?¬† Please leave a comment or a link to your blog where you share your own “Read Aloud Thursday”!

Kindergarten Plans

¬†NBTSbloghopI’ve been planning to share some of what we have planned for Lulu’s upcoming kindergarten year, and when I saw that the theme for the first week of Darcy’s month-long Blog Hop is curriculum, I decided to go ahead with it today.¬† I don’t have anything else to do.¬† ūüėȬ†A few¬†weekends ago, Steady Eddie and I spent all day on Saturday at his office¬†with our binder and various books spread out on the conference table.¬† My goal was to have a rough idea of where we are headed, at least¬†through Christmas, and I am pleased to say that I accomplished my goal (at least on paper).¬†

We plan to officially begin Lulu’s kindergarten year August 24.¬† My idea now is that we will be¬†year-’round schoolers, but our summer school will be very light–two to three days a week at most.¬† I just couldn’t countenance the idea of starting something new in the middle of summer, despite the fact that the public schools start next week in our neck of the woods.¬† There are¬†still almost two months of good swimming weather ahead of us here!¬† However, I think we’re all about ready to get into some sort of routine.¬† Now that we’re in the throes of remodeling and my floors¬†are decorated with highly¬†visible sawdust and sheetrock dust footprints, I think I will say that we’re starting kindergarten August 24, when the school room is set up, or just before I go crazy, which ever comes first.¬† ūüôā

And now, without further ado, the curriculum:

I’ve written already about what we’ve already done for reading up until now.¬† Because I get antsy if we’re not doing SOMETHING structured at all times, we have been using Jump Right into Reading¬†as a review for the past few weeks.¬† I had hoped to finish it quickly, but because¬†life is a little crazy right now, what with all the extra folks, the drilling, and the banging, we haven’t made much progress.¬†¬†¬†When we finish that (if not before), we will continue¬†with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading.¬† I also have Explode the Code 1 and Explode the Code¬† 2, which I plan to use alternatingly with OPGTR.¬† Of course, excepting the OPGTR, this is all untried, so¬†this is all subject to revision.¬† Right now I’m hoping to be finished with ETC 1, through lesson 53 in OPGTR, and through lesson six in ETC 2 by Christmas.¬† Add into the mix that we will be reviewing Rocket Phonics¬†for¬†TOS Homeschool Crew, and it’s likely that I”ve overplanned.¬† We’ll see.¬†


I commissioned Steady Eddie with the job of choosing a math curriculum.¬† He took his job seriously.¬† ūüôā¬† After lurking on lots of math-related threads over at The Well Trained Mind K-8 forums¬†and perusing several publishes’ websites, he settled on RightStart Math for kindergarten.¬† Math is the thing I feel the most distanced from–it has been a looooong time since I scraped by with a C in Calculus II as a college freshman.¬† I also think this might be the subject I’m (secretly) most excited about because I think Lulu is going to adore it.¬† I think RightStart will be a good fit for her.


After going back and forth about which model of handwriting we liked the best (I can see us now–bedazzled by the thought that we ¬†hold our children’s entire educations in the palms of our hands and have a choice about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g), we finally decided on Handwriting Without Tears¬†because it seemed like the one that would appeal to Lulu the most.¬† Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything bad about it.¬†

Science, History, Geography, Art,  Etc.

This will mostly be approached through little unit studies from Five in a Row: Volume 1.¬† We enjoyed the books we explored through Before Five in a Row this past year, so I thought we’d continue on in the same vein.¬† I also hope to undertake a consistent nature study (maybe once a week)¬†by participating in The Outdoor Hour Nature Study Challenge over at Handbook of Nature Study blog.¬† This is all extra, though–I consider the reading, math, and handwriting our priorities.

As far as Bible and physical education go, I consider them a natural part of our day.  (I do need to be more deliberate about the physical activity part, though.)  We have devotions after breakfast, a Bible story or two at night, and I hope to pick back up our family memorization challenges soon. 

Of course, reading aloud will continue to be a cornerstone of our day, too.

Whew!¬† After getting this all typed out, it seems like a lot.¬† I’m really excited to begin this new venture, and my prayer that this year is a joy and delight for us all.¬† I know there will be some rough patches, but I want us all to look back at this official year with the feeling that we’re really glad we embarked on this journey as a family!

The Carrot Seed Go-Alongs and a Sweet Little Experiment

As I wrote earlier this week, we have thoroughly enjoyed The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss here at the House of Hope.  This is a picture book that is accessible across the ages due to its simplicity.  Although our schooling has definitely taken a backseat to swimming and splashing at the local splash pad over the past month, we have kept up our reading aloud, as well as a few other schoolish activities.  This is our last official Before Five in a Row selection before we begin kindergarten next month!

When we read The Carrot Seed , I knew just the book to pair with it.¬† We read The Giant Carrot by Jan Peck some time ago, and the first reading was just as good as the tenth.¬† This charming and funny picture book is an adaptation of a Russian folktale entitled “The Turnip.”¬† This version is peopled with rustic characters very appropriately¬†described as tall¬†Papa Joe, wide Mama Bess, strong Brother Abel, and sweet Little Isabelle.¬†¬†Through the combined effort of Papa Joe’s composting, Mama Bess’ weeding, Brother Abel’s watering,¬†but mostly¬†Little Isabelle’s singing,¬†they grow a gigantic carrot which will not come out of the ground until sweet Little Isabelle lends her strength (and her voice) to her very able-bodied family’s efforts.¬† This is all told with humor, repetition, and dialect which my girls just loved.¬† Barry Root‘s illustrations are really a grand addition to this delightful tale–the spread of the carrot forcefully coming out of the ground always dissolves my girls into hysterical giggles.¬† This story is the perfect companion to The Carrot Seed.

Another great go-along¬†for The Carrot Seed is the Caldecott honor book Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens.¬† This book purportedly picks up where “The Tortoise and the Hare” leaves off, only this time, the wily hare snookers a lazy bear.¬†¬†The hare figures out a way to get the food he and his family needs:¬† he will trick the bear into giving it to them!¬† I don’t want to ruin the surprise if you’re unfamiliar with this story (or if you can’t figure it out from the title ūüėČ ), but it’s a good one!¬† It also has the distinction of being a picture book that opens vertically rather than horizontally, so it really gets the kids’ attention.¬†

¬†Of course, I couldn’t bear to read a book about root vegetables and pass up an opportunity to do a little science experiment.¬†¬†It helped that we already had a sweet potato sprouting in the cabinet!¬† ūüėȬ† (Hey–books are my thing, not home organization, as evidenced not only by the potato, but also the dirty window!)


sweet potato 1

I figured it was probably a little late to do the trusty potato-in-the-glass experiment, but at the very least, I thought it would illustrate phototropism for the girls. This is the potato in the glass on Thursday, July 2:


sweet potato 2

And here it is on Monday, July 6:
sweet potato 3


It looks like I was right! 

The most memorable part of this experiment for me was Louise’s question as we were preparing to submerge the potato in the water. She queried, “Will it be able to see in there?”¬† Although I’m really not sure that sweet potatoes have eyes like potatoes do, I got my chuckle of the day out of it, at least.¬† ūüôā

We Herpetologists

girlsMy girls love creepy, crawly things.¬† Never mind that Lulu has only recently begun touching cats.¬† Dogs?¬† Forget it.¬† She’s more likely to scale your entire body and perch atop your head if a dog comes within sniffing distance.¬† Louise, on the other hand, would like to love furry animals, if her sister’s phobia weren’t contagious.¬† (Parents of closely spaced children, you know how this is.) But give them a roly-poly, an earthworm (even half of an earthworm), any kind of flying insect devoid of a stinger, or any other various and sundry things that make most girls shriek, and they are really, really happy.¬† Louise played with a garden slug one day a few weeks ago.¬† It took five minutes of vigorous scrubbing to get the slime off her hands.¬† Eeeeeeeeew.

It follows that my girls were thrilled when the six inches of water left in my parents’ uncovered, above-ground swimming pool became a tadpole nursery earlier in the spring.¬† My nephews, the two Es, were proud to show off the babies.

handfulWhat I didn’t anticipate, though, was my girls’ eagerness to get up-close-and-personal with the frogs-to-be.¬† They loved carrying them around the yard and observing them close-range.

lulu holding square

On Memorial Day, we decided that it was time to bring some of these little ones to the House of Hope.¬† I mean, if I can’t control the slime factor, I can at least turn it into a educational opportunity, right?¬† Here was our chance to watch the metamorphosis take place in our own living room garage.¬† Steady Eddie thought we had an old aquarium out in our storage shed, but we didn’t.¬† Apparently we got rid of it in a fit of decluttering we have every so often.

These little tadpoles lived happily in the ice cream bucket we used to transport them for several days.  One morning, the girls and I went outside to do a few chores and play, and we found this:

IMG_2160I knew then that these little babies wouldn’t stick around for long in their ice cream bucket home.¬† Steady Eddie procured a lidded container (with holes in the lid, of course), and all was well.

That is, until I decided that these changelings needed a little sunshine.¬† That’s right, we went out to play the next day, and I took the little froglets and their new home out and placed them on our driveway, where I left them for the next four hours or so.¬† In the sunshine.

When Steady Eddie came home from work, he broke the news to me gently that our froglets had perished died croaked.

Obviously my common sense was on summer vacation that day.  I know that water in small container gets hot quickly, especially if said container is transparent plastic.

I was sad, but the girls were rather stoic about this turn of events.¬† I’m sure it helped that they knew there were plenty more tadpoles where those came from.¬† Since then, almost all of the tadpoles have metamorphosed into tiny little frogs and escaped their swimming pool home.¬† I just consider it a great opportunity missed, but I’m sure we’ll have fun in¬†our future nature and science studies with all sorts of¬†creepy, crawly things.lulu holdingI promise to be more careful next time.¬† ūüôā¬†


Maybe I’ll invest in one of these:

frog house

When I saw this book, I couldn’t resist.¬† ūüėČ

The Frog House¬†by Mark Taylor is the fun story of a tree frog who commandeers an apple-shaped birdhouse for his own home.¬† Just about the time he sets up housekeeping,¬†a series of would-be tenants try to evict the frog from his newly-found home, but the frog manages to dissuade each one.¬† Barbara Garrison‘s illustrations are beautiful and interesting.¬† The illustrations are a series of collagraphs¬†which are brightly colored and child-like.¬† You can view some of Garrison’s collagraphs here on her website.¬† This looks like an art process that¬† might be fun to do (in a modified way somehow, no doubt) with children.¬†

There you have it–a nature study/science post that ends up as a mini book review.¬† Everything comes back to books for me, it seems.¬† ūüôā