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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nature Study: Praying Mantis

SO cool!

The boys spotted this yesterday outside our house just above my bedroom window. How cool!! Today in our school Bible time, we read about how 'God Made All Things Good' in Leading Little Ones to God: A Child's Book of Bible Teachings by Marian M. Schoolland. And boy did He ever! I'm just SO excited when the Lord provides us with a special object lesson! He is a personal God! He was showing off his creation! Today, I think what I saw was an egg case above my door! I'm going to try to get a better picture of it a little later... We may just get an up close and personal look at mantis nymphs after a little while! Here's a kinda blurry picture of what I suspect might be the egg case. This little yellowish-brown thing is right where we saw the mantis yesterday in the crevice up between the top of the wall and the roof.

So in order to have a really productive nature study, we looked up in Travellers' Wildlife Guides Peru (our Peru field guide), for mantis AND Handbook of Nature Study ... Nothing!

So a-googling we go...


Here are the most interesting Praying Mantis facts:
Facts taken from article at this link )

Most commonly known as the Praying Mantis, order mantodea is a group of about 1800 carnivorous insects which prodominatley live in tropical regions of the earth.
"...mantids were created for hunting and killing prey."
The head has the ability to turn 180 degrees. With their prominate pair of compound eyes located on the sides of the head, the mantis can almost see 360 degrees around.
These legs can regenerate if broken, but only in the molting process. These limbs that regenerate are always smaller than they were originally. A full grown adult that no longer molts no longer possess the ability to regenerate limbs.
"...mantids are fairly weak flyers."
The mantid is an auditory cyclops, which means it only has one ear. The ear is 1mm long with cuticle like knobs at either end and two ear drums buried inside. The ear is specially tuned to very high ultrasonic freqeuncies of sound waves from 25 to 65 kilohertz. Apparently, the ears primary purpose is designed to respond to the ultrasonic echo-location signal used by hunting bats. The mantis primarily uses its ultrasonic ears while in flight. When a mantis senses a bats ultrasonic echo at close range, it curls its abdomen upwards and thrusts its legs outward creating a drag and resulting in a sudden aerial stall. This flight manuever of the mantis creates an unpredictable flight pattern for the bat, and
is very effective at avoiding hungry bats.
There are three ways to distinguish between female and male mantodea. The male has 8 segments, while the female has 6. The second is size, the female is always bigger than the male. The third is behavior, the male mantis is more prone to take flight in search of a mate, while the female often remains stationary.
"...some species will eat anything from small birds to reptiles."
Mantids attack by pinching, impaling prey between its spiked lower tibia and upper femur. The mantids strike takes an amazing 30 to 50 one-thousanth of a second. The strike is so fast it cant be proccessed by the human brain.
The egg laying process takes 3 to 5 hours long. There can be anywhere from 30 to 300 eggs laid in a sitting. Emerging nymphs feed on whatever small insects they can get their claws on, including their brothers and sisters.
"The primary enemies to mantids are spiders, birds, snakes, mammals (especially bats), and man."
The mantis has four primary methods for defense. The mantids green and brown exo-skeleton color help aid in camouflage. The mantids ability to stand perfectly still for extremely long periods of time cause it to be over looked by predators. When confronted by an enemy the mantis asumes the startle display, rearing its fore legs up and spread apart, and rattling its wings. The ultrasonic ear is also a form of defense for the mantis.
The praying mantis plays an important role in natures insect pest control plan. The praying mantis is one of the few predators with that are
fast enough to catch mosquitos and flies while their in flight.
For thousands of years they have captured our imagination, and curiosity.

"The word mantis comes from ancient greece
and means diviner or prohpet."
Many cultures have credited the mantid with a variety of magical qualities. In the southern portion of the U.S. it is believed that if the brown saliva of a mantis ever comes in contact with you, youll go blind. This mystical saliva also has the potential to kill a horse. In France it is believed that if a lost child is ever in the woods and cant find his way home the praying stance of the mantid will direct them toward safety. The Turks and Arabs believe the mantid always prays toward Mecca. During the European Middle-ages it was thought that the mantis was a great worshiper of god due to the great amounts of time spent in prayer.
"In China it is believed that the roasted egg cases of mantids will cure bed wetting in people."
In Africa, if a mantid ever lands on someone it will bring that person good luck. It is also believed that the mantis possess the power to bring the dead back to life.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress post updated

I've updated several links in my Pilgrim's Progress post! Now you can find coloring pages as well as video and links to audio files :)


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Living Math - part one

This is the first post in my Living Math series.

In part one, I'll start out with our math history :) This will give you a little insight to our struggles and why we are turning to more living math methods! Then, I'll list some living math ideas that are working for us, and where we're headed. And last, I have a bunch of links I've found in my research of the topic, that I'd like to have handy and hopefully they'll help someone else out too. And then someday, I'm going to post again on the books that have really helped my boys - this is spoken in true faith :) ...they WILL be helped!

...this is my oldest (several years ago) doing math the painful way!

Our story:
One of my boys is seriously coming to deeply despise math. I have come to terms with the fact that math will never be his strong area. But I will not settle with the excuse that he has to hate it! Now, I didn't care much for math either growing up... too time consuming. So, I know that not everyone will like math, though if you're like me, maybe you will like it more later on when you see the practical use for it. The real problem is the effect it is having on his outlook on learning in general. I've heard him or his brother say things like, 'Oh, he's just not that smart...' And that simply cannot be! We have tried a few things over the years. I'm not in a position to try every curriculum out there, but we've seen some stuff. Everything I buy I have to mail or bring down in a suitcase which about triples its price. SO... for the last 3 years, we have been using MUS (which I actually really like). But the fact is, I don't want to try everything, I just want one thing that will work. Now, that should be easy, right?
--We used Miquon and it was from what I could see similar to Singapore... yikes. Teacher intensive. That was tearful for both of us (I might add though, the lady at the homeschool convention who recommended it to me really liked it! ;). We tried MEP for approximately 3 weeks... WAY too much work for me! I have too many kids for that! I did like that math, had it not been so intensive, I probably would've kept with it. I have experience with Saxon as well, too many problems! I knew that wouldn't go over well in our house!--
I have two boys, the younger of which is really quick to catch on, he is good at memorizing facts... you might say he's naturally mathematical. On the other hand his alter ego is represented in my oldest boy (older by 12mos). The main thing my struggler has a problem with, is simply memorization of facts. I thought it was a problem with curriculum. Matter of fact, I even had them both redo a year (this wasn't totally fair for the one boy who was doing fine, but since he didn't really seem to care, it worked). But for my oldest, math has always been a struggle. Since day one. ALL the math facts have been hard for my boy. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and now Division have all been the same. He knows it one day, and then I am not kidding, forgets it the very next day. It IS astounding. However, we are realizing that it IS there... somewhere... deep. way deep, deep down in there. He has this mindset problem. He thinks he can't do it, and by golly, when he's thinking that way, no matter the consequence, no matter how long he tries, he can't do it!

So. In the last year we have begun to incorporate some Living Math into our studies. This means fun math, really. Real life math. I'm doing this to try to remedy the fact that my boy HATES math and seriously is beginning to think poorly of himself because of this problem area. I want him to see the other side of math, that math can be enjoyable... and that mathematicians are people too... even if he isn't ever one of them!! ;)

We will get into that in the next post :)

Stay tuned :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

CM on Habits and the Sinful Nature

A Childlight article: Flesh and Blood by Art Middlekauff

Very good. Reconciles the seeming parodox between forming habits as a means of acquiring 'holiness' and sanctification by the work of the Holy Spirit. He quotes extensively and knowledgeably from Charlotte's works.

"Whether invisible prayer or tangible “ruts” in the brain, all of these are from God, to sanctify us, and make us like His Son." ~ quoted from article

She quotes this from an article in the old Parents' Reviews, from 1902, called Limitations of Theory:
"I believe strongly in the importance of cultivating right habits, and in the power they exert over us; but sometimes I have felt that there was a danger of putting habit almost in the place of God--of thinking that everything can be accomplished by careful training, and that a child can simply, by care and watchful oversight, be turned out a great and good character. Valuable as habit is, it cannot renew the heart, and the mother who trusts entirely to her training is in danger of sad disappointment. It seems to me that those who place too great importance on habit run the risk of leaving God no room to work.
... To change an old saying, we might say, "Habit is a good servant, but a bad master." What is done merely through habit is more or less mechanical, and there is a danger of want of adaptation to surroundings in those who are too much bound by it."
I have noted that quote before, and still have yet to wrap my whole mind around the concept and place of habits. They are SO useful a tool... and yet nothing more than a tool. May habit training alone not become our whole goal and focus.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress - Progreso del Peregrino

Our lives following Christ are exactly like this book describes! I can't believe how true to life it is and how it remains relevant in spite of being written in the 1600's! It is because they are spiritual truths contained within... not ever-changing cultural norms.
Oh the pleasure.

This single book has had a LOT of impact in our family's collective spiritual life.
I read this when I was quite young and I still remember some of the parable/illustrations from WAY back then! My husband read it when he was a little older, and it was one of those instrumental books in his spiritual development early on in those pre-missionary preparatory days (not that we don't do the same things now! the impact was just greater the first time!). Sensing its worth, he has subsequently over the years, read it aloud to our two older boys several times through at bedtime. He uses a revised, but unabridged version, that retains much of the beautiful old English. Last year, the boys read independently a simplified version as catch up from AOY3 (we were in the US and the book was here in Peru, so we postponed their individual reading of it as they had clearly had exposure to the book). We did not have them narrate (only periodically discussed) the reading from the old English... but they did narrate every section when they read independently.

I've read it so many times, and I'm still not tired of it! In fact, writing this post whets my appetite for another dose!

Whenever we want to, you and I can come right here and watch this little video that reminds us of the wonderful truths contained in this book. (We actually own this video in español on VHS, but it is here in English on in 4 parts.)

Part two
Part three
Part four

Here's AmblesideOnline's page on Pilgrim's Progress studies. You'll find links to the text divided into reading selections over 36 or 72 weeks for easier implementation in your AO homeschool.

Coloring Pages! My littles LOVE to color while they are listening! Click here for TONS of downloadable .pdfs

Online version (to print):

From Christian Classics Ethereal Library in a .txt file
In one word syllables: FREE from, paraphrase by Lucy Aikin

Free Audio versions:
In English: {in a 12+ part download, part two of Christiana is also available} {in a 12+part download, part two of Christiana is also available}
En Español: {in a 5 part download}
and at {in a 17 part download}

What we used:

The boys read independently the Abeka books version that has discussion questions at the end of each section. And our unabridged version was something like one of the following, I will update the link to the exact book if it is available when I can get my hands on the ISBN#.

Kindle version:

Someday Items:

I hope this book comes to mean as much to your family as it does to ours!
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