Category: Homeschooling

Birds: Week Three

I’m writing out ahead of time what our plan is for the week and then I will be posting photos, here and on my Instagram, as we progress! This week we will be learning about the birds we could see in our backyard – so feel free to swap these out with the birds for your area. I found our list simply by searching “Colorado Most Common Birds” and found this page.

** Reminder: We will still be doing our core subjects (math, writing, reading) and then filling the rest of our time exploring this topic.

All Week



Hawk, Eagle & Owl





❤ Tara

Birds: Week Two

Unit Study: Birds - Week Two | www.oliverandtara.com

I’m writing out ahead of time what our plan is for the week and then I will be posting photos, here and on my Instagram, as we progress! Week one was so much fun and we can’t wait to get into learning all about the parts of a bird!

Supply list here.

** Reminder: We will still be doing our core subjects (math, writing, reading) and then filling the rest of our time exploring this topic.

All Week







❤ Tara

Birds: Week One Day Two & Three

Tuesday

Tuesday started with Storytime with the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. It was a nice slow start to the morning at the kitchen table!

That was followed up with an Outschool class Pip signed up for with one of his co-op friends. We are really liking this teacher and her classes. She’s great with classroom management, engaging the kids, and always ends with a fun experiment. Last week they took one on Elements, Components and Mixtures then finished up with making slime. Today it was on Liquids, Solids and Gasses and they ended with making ooblek! It’s now become tradition that once the class finished, Pip and his friend call each other back on Zoom, invite the younger siblings in and they all play with the experiments together. Today was not different and ooblek was everywhere! Messes always mean a great time happened.

Wednesday

We spent almost our whole day out at a local lake that has a variety of birds. We hiked, watched, researched names of birds we saw, drew in our nature journals, pulled out the binoculars a LOT… we were out there for three hours!

Pip’s favorite bird at the lake is still a mystery to him – he hasn’t figured out it’s name yet. Stay tuned!

Liv loved the Red Winged Blackbirds

I personally was a fan of the pelicans and blue herons all over the west side of the lake! And the cute goslings – of course.

Thursday

We hopped on the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies webinar this morning all on backyard birding. Liv lost interest fast, but Pip was all in! We learned that we may have more luck with our bird bath if we move it, two new types of food and feeders to try , and even ordered the two new feeders for the backyard!

After listening to the guest speaker, Pip really wants to try putting out shelled peanuts and fruit. So we purchased a Peanut Wreath Feeder and a Suet Basket. In the spring and summer we can put fresh fruit in the Suet Basket, and in the winter we can put suet cakes!

We spent some time doing the Robin Egg Math after little sis went down for rest time. It’s so fun to see Pip getting quicker and confident with his math facts! We also plated some Zeus on the Loose for more math practice today and let the math books on the cart.

We had some time remaining before a Zoom class, so we pulled up a few bird feeder cams and watched birds all over. The most active was this one in New York. But we also had fun seeing the bright birds at this one in Panama. We left the Panama Bird Feeder Cam up while we hopped onto a free Zoom class all about Owl Pellets. It was really wonderfully done (in both English and Spanish!) and we are excited to try out our own here during Week Three. Our pellets just came in the mail yesterday!

Even more rearranging of our Bird Shelf happened after this photo, the kids are utilizing it a ton. Before I was downstairs the other day, Pip had already been figuring out the Life Cycle of a Robin. I love having key materials so readily available for them. It gives them a lot of independence in exploring the Unit Study!


❤ Tara

Birds: Week One, Day One

Today was our official kick off of the Birds Unit Study, and also just happens to be our Zoom Co-Op day. It was a fun kick off with everyone on camera and making nests!

We read Nest by Jorey Hurley, The Nest by Constantine Georgiou and Mama Built a Little Nest, Jennifer Ward together while making nests from materials we had at home. Pip really listened to HOW birds build nests and included things like “cushion” and even “spider webs”. I love watching how his brain works! We also listened to a bit of this month’s Classical Music Playlist while creating together.

A few friends stayed after the goodbye song and we did some excellent sensory play – with cooked spaghetti! We tried to make Spaghetti Birds Nests from it, weave with it and overall just ran our fingers through it. Liv spent most of her time smelling it, she’s seriously my olfactory kid. After a bit the homeschool mamas got curious what else we could do and went hunting on Pinterest for some more ideas…

Do a few drops of oil (olive or vegetable) and a few drops of food coloring on cooked pasta then squish around in a ziplock baggie. Let it sit open and dry out for 15 minutes (ours dried out for about 5 hours!) then rinse it off. It makes some really vibrant colors! It is all in our fridge now for more play tomorrow. We may add some scissors in for cutting practice before we throw it away.

Outside we had some fun too. The kids and I have been reading about how to attract birds to our feeders and heard a bird bath is a selling point! I had to make due with what I could find at WalMart yesterday, but I’m pretty happy with our end result! Now let’s see if it works.

After dinner, Pip and I started the Woven Bowls activity and talked about what we learned about today. Did you know many birds weave their nests using spider webs? I had to make Pip stop and get ready for bed, but he can’t wait to continue tomorrow (his is the green).

I’ve been busy prepping our Bird Shelf for the upcoming days. We’ve already reference The Big Book of Birds quite a few times today, I’m so happy with our purchase. And the Sibley Backyard Birding Flashcards are such an excellent resource! The kids reference them every day, learning to identify the visitors to our yard. Liv looked out on the deck today and announced “Oh look! Another House Finch!” I’ve also been busy laminating resources for the upcoming days including the Life Cycle of a Robin.

If you haven’t discovered magnetic tape yet, well today is your lucky day! The red strip behind/above the Bird Shelf is a magnetic strip. We also use our fridge for a lot of resource too. So magnetic tape is a quick and easy way for me to put up our resources and for the kids to explore them, put them in order, play with them and then quickly ‘”put them away” when done. Today I used it on the Life Cycle of a Robin so they kids can put them in order on the magnetic strip when exploring our resources on the shelf.

We’ve continued to journal birds and keep a count (practicing tally marks) of the birds we see each day. House Finches are in the lead, but a trip to our local lake in a few days may skew those results some!

We didn’t get to everything today, which is fine. I didn’t expect to – I made the Week One list as more of a “menu”. For example, we didn’t get to Robin’s Nest Addition today because I’m still cutting out ALL THOSE DANG EGGS. But it should be out on the shelf tomorrow. Maybe. We’ll see. We hope to watch some of the Nest Cams and start learning our folk song tomorrow.

Who knows what the day will bring. But that is what is great about homeschooling – we get to go at our own pace, spend a longer time on things that interest, and skip things that are bombing.

Thanks for following along with us!


❤ Tara

Habit Forming

Something we focus on in our home are habits. We intentionally address a single habit and work together to form them in ourselves, each other and within our family as a whole. It is an important part of our family culture. I wanted to take a moment explaining how we do this, then discuss what we are working on as a family.

One at a Time

We don’t try to tackle everything at once. It is distracting and impossible. We pick one we will all work together one. We discuss the why, how, when, where and why with the kids and get everyone focused together.

Joyful & Encouraging

We try hard to be positive and excited about developing these habits. We are giving our kids (and ourselves) a priceless treasure by helping each other develop good habits that will serve us well the rest of our lives. This is NOT through punishment. We are developing discipline, but there are no punishments. Just consistent direction and diligence in dealing with it every single time.

The First Time

Through the development of habits we are consistently working on “the first time every time”. Which means through all this habit development we are simultaneously working on listening the first time someone asks us. We are far from perfect on this, but holding this expectation is developing wonderful things in the kids. I often will offer them the reminder “I am only going to say this once, so are you ready?” There are times where they miss my direction and I won’t repeat it, and the feeling of missing out often reminds them to listen more closely next time.

Excited Inspiration

We are excited to inspire and encourage these good habits and we delight in them as they make everyone’s life easier in the end. The process is bringing us to a wonderful reward and that should be inspiring and exciting in and of itself. So we are excited for the wins. We hope to inspire our children by modeling the very habits we want them to develop with intentional actions and words.

Mama Habits

All of this is developing me as a person and mother. I can’t be distracted or too busy, or I am missing the moments for habit development. It takes a lot of work in the beginning of a new habit. But when they become strong, it makes life for all of us so much easier. Now I simple have to say “Good habits…” for the kids to double check themselves and immediately correct course. The fruits of this labor will set them up for life – it isn’t a sprint. It is a marathon.

Kindness

There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us ‘Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night’s lodging. ‘Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light.

Ralph Waldo

This month we will be focusing on kindness. Think of a time when someone showed you kindness and the feeling is wonderful. Being homeschoolers, our children are used to spending all day every day together. Which means when we all show each other kindness, our days go well.

Kindness is multifaceted, there are so many moving pieces. Referencing one of my favorite habit development books, there are some key parts of kindness we will all be working on together:

  • Think the best of other people
  • Not assume others will mock our kindness
  • Defend others’ character, even in their absence
  • Respond kindly to your brother/sister, always
  • We hold others’ happiness in our hands
  • Kindness always trumps selfishness

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

Mother Teresa

Some More Information

What habit will you be working on this month?


❤ Tara

Birds: Week One

Unit Study: Birds Week One | www.oliverandtara.com

I’m writing out ahead of time what our plan is for the week and then I will be posting photos, here and on my Instagram, as we progress! We are excited and prepped for our week and can’t wait to dive in.

** Reminder: We will still be doing our core subjects (math, writing, reading) and then filling the rest of our time exploring this topic.

A printable supply list for all the crafts can be found here.

All Week



Eggs



Bird Food




❤ Tara

Birds: Verse

Unit Study: Birds | Memory Verse
Unit Study: Birds - Memory Verse | www.oliverandtara.com

A part of our monthly plan is learning a bible verse. We often use the Simply Charlotte Mason system for memorization. But we do deviate where appropriate. A Unit Study will sometimes deviate us. This Unit Study has provided so many verses to choose from, but our hymn actually helps. I love connecting as many pieces of our unit as possible, so why not use the very verse our hymn was based on?

Memory Verse

30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:30-31

Download 3×5 printable verse cards here.


❤ Tara

Birds: Hymn

Each month we learn a new hymn. We listen to it for the whole month, talk about the verses regularly and hopefully have it memorized by the end of the month! We often play it in the car as we drive places during the day, or over our Google Home when we are around the house. I typically follow AmblesideOnline for our music selections. But with this month being a unit study for us, I went in search of a hymn that was fitting.

There are a plethora of hymns related to birds. Some very well known, and others more obscure. I wanted on the kids would recognize throughout their life, so I went with common.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

The Story

Written by Civilla Martin in 1904 when visiting an ill bed-ridden friend. That friend held onto Matthew 10:29-31 during her illness. It inspired Civilla, a poet and wife of an evangelist, and by the end of the day the poem was completed. It was then sent off to the well known composer of the day, Charles Gabriel. And the rest is history!

Lyrics

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.


❤ Tara

Birds: Folk

Unit Study: Birds - folk song of the month | www.oliverandtara.com
Unit Study: Birds - Folk song of the month! | www.oliverandtara.com

Another “riches” we include in our monthly rhythm are folk songs. We practice and learn a new one for a month and then add the song to our Spotify playlist. This gives us an ever growing list of songs we can sing together in the car, on hikes, etc.

Why a folk song?

Oh my word, there are so very many reasons to include folk songs in with your other riches. For one, it is a huge part of our cultural heritage here in America. The lyrics often address parts of our history and the music style itself is fading away. Children love singing folk songs. They often have an upbeat yet simple tune to follow along with while you sing. And some of the lyrics are just plane nonsensical and amusing!

Simply put, they infuse beauty, fun, history and culture into your learning space.

Folk songs with birds

As soon as I picked this month’s theme, I knew I would have an abundance of folk songs to pick from about birds. However, I have learned in the past that you MUST pre-screen your folk songs. Or risk traumatizing your more sensitive kids. (oops!)

This month I picked a simple folk song with a beautiful tune and a great way to talk about all the birds they are learning this month. You can add in any bird you like to this simple song and sing as you work, play and go about your daily rhythm. I often hear the kids singing folk songs as they do other tasks and it always makes me so happy.

Little Bird, Little Bird (Elizabeth Mitchell)

Little bird, little bird
Fly through my window
Little bird, little bird
Fly through my window
Little bird, little bird
Fly through my window
Find molasses candy

Through my window
My sugar lump
Fly through my window
My sugar lump
Find molasses candy

Who knows a bird?
Me! Chickadee!
What's a chickadee say?
ChchchchchchChickadee, chickadee

Fly through my window
Chickadee, chickadee
Fly through my window
Chickadee, chickadee
Fly through my window
Find molasses candy

Through my window
My sugar lump
Fly through my window
My sugar lump
And find molasses candy

Who knows another bird?
Me! Jaybird!
What does a jaybird say?
Jayjayjayjayjayjay

Jaybird, jaybird
Fly through my window
Jaybird, jaybird
Fly through my window
Jaybird, jaybird
Fly through my window
Find molasses candy

Through my window
My sugar lump
Fly through my window
My sugar lump
Find molasses candy

Who knows one more bird?
I do! A whip-poor-will
What does a whip-poor-will say?

Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will
Fly through my window
Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will
Fly through my window
Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will
Fly through my window
Find molasses candy

Through my window
My sugar lump
Fly through my window
My sugar lump
Find molasses candy


❤ Tara

Birds: Classical Music

We typically study one composer at time when we explore classical music throughout the school year. We really learn all about the composer and get a feel for their music so we can identify it when we hear it in another context.

This month we are doing it a bit different. We are instead exploring a variety of composers who have created works around birds! Some actually have bird sounds, others use instruments to imitate birds. Overall it gives us great music to listen to and talk about

When to Listen

We don’t have an assigned day or time to listen to music. We typically play our classical music in the background while we do other things. Some suggestions are during:

  • Meals
  • Art/Handicrafts
  • Bible Reading
  • Read Alouds
  • Quiet Time
  • Game time

What We’re Listening To…

  • The Lark Ascending, Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Inspired by the 1881 poem of the same name, this piece was first performed in 1920. A 16 minute song, it was created for a solo violin with an orchestra.
  • The Birds, Ottorino Respighi
    This suite is for a small orchestra and while written in 1926, it is based on music from the 17th and 18th century. The goal of the music was to recreate bird songs and movement. It includes The Dove, The Hen, The Nightingale and The Cuckoo.
  • Cantus Articus, Einojuhani Rautavaara
    This Finnish composer created this composition in 1972. It includes taped recordings of birds from the Finland and the Arctic Circle with the music including shore larks and swans.
  • Bird Concerto with Pianosong, Jonathan Harvey
    Written in 2001 for a solo piano with 7 person ensemble. Harvey listened to 40 birds, including indigo buntings and golden crown sparrows, then slowed down their songs and began turning them into musical notes.
  • Le Merle noir, Olivier Messiaen
    Written in 1952, it is a chamber work from French flute and piano. He had a lifelong interest in birdsong and this piece was his earliest work incorporating stylized birdsong.
  • Le Réveil des oiseaux, Olivier Messiaen
    This whole piece was build from birdsong and is known as a dawn chorus.
  • Epode, Olivier Messiaen
    This work is scored for 18 violins, all playing a different birdsong.

Listen With Us


❤ Tara