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Friday, April 26, 2013

thoughts and quotes on the use of mind.

“...the child's mind is no mere sac to hold ideas but is rather, if the figure may be allowed, a 'spiritual organism' with an appetite for all knowledge. ”
p111, CM's principle #9 AND the theme of this chapter.

The psychology [think mind is an empty sac/blank slate theory] touted by Herbart [the guy whose philosophy Charlotte primarily refers to in this chapter], is extraordinarily gratifying and attractive to teachers who are, like other people, eager to magnify their office...” because teachers are tempted to show off “how every child is a new creation as he comes forth” out of his or her hands, and may begin to pin the student's success as a result of the teacher's own prowess in teaching.

This may describe many a classroom...even a homeschool? The unit-study approach is particularly in danger of falling into this category. Note the similarities:
  • First we have nine lessons in literature and language, the subjects being such as 'Robinson climbs a hill and finds he is on an island.'
  • Then, ten object lessons of which the first is,––The Sea, the second, A Ship from Foreign Parts, the sixth, A Life-Boat, the seventh, Shell-Fish, the tenth, A Cave. How these 'objects' are to be produced one does not see.
  • The third series are drawing lessons, probably as many, a boat, a ship, an oar, an anchor and so on.
  • Then follows a series on manual training, still built upon 'Robinson'; the first, a model of the seashore; then models of Robinson's island, of Robinson's house, and Robinson's pottery.
  • The next course consists of reading, an infinite number of lessons,––'passages from The Child's Robinson Crusoe and from a general reader on the matters discussed in object lessons.'
  • Then follows a series of writing lessons, "simple compositions on the subject of the lessons. ... the children framed the sentences which the teacher wrote on the blackboard and the class copied afterwards..."
  • Arithmetic follows with, no doubt, as many lessons, many mental examples and simple problems dealt with Robinson"; the eighth and last course was in singing and recitation,––'I am monarch of all I survey,' etc. "The lessons lasted about forty-five minutes each.
“The teacher was probably at her best in getting by sheer force much out of little: she was, in fact, acting a part and the children were entertained as at a show, cinema or other; but of one thing we may be sure, an utter distaste, a loathing, on the part of the children ever after, not only for 'Robinson Crusoe' but for every one of the subjects lugged in to illustrate his adventures. We read elsewhere of an apple affording a text for a hundred lessons, including the making of a ladder, (in paper), to gather the apples; but, alas, the eating of the worn out apple is not suggested." p116, CM 

I'm not trying to single out the unit study approach, however, this bears thinking about. This is why this is such an important issue...
The children who are capable of and eager for a wide range of knowledge and literary expression are reduced to inanities; a lifelong ennui is set up; every approach to knowledge suggests avenues for boredom, and the children's minds sicken and perish long before their school-days come to an end. p116
As I have said elsewhere, the ideas required for the sustenance of children are to be found mainly in books of literary quality; given these the mind does for itself the sorting, arranging, selecting, rejecting, classifying, which Herbart leaves to the struggle of the promiscuous ideas which manage to cross the threshold. p117

Charlotte then moves on to point out how this erroneous [empty sac/blank slate] philosophy works out in the education of the time. Things we see happening again in our time. She quotes from several authors to support her thinking.
"There is too much learning and too little work. The teacher ready to use the powers that his training and experience have given him works too hard while the boy's share in the struggle is too light. It is possible to make education too easy for children and to rob learning of the mental discipline which often wearies but in the end produces concentration and the capacity to work alone...”
p119 CM quoting Alexander Paterson in Across the Bridges.

Charlotte quotes Paterson as he talks about the fact that in Elementary schools time is WASTED on such like as tiresome unit studies or spending too many years teaching the basic R's of education, instead of providing that feast of knowledge on which a mind must inevitably grow. The teacher acts as the prime figure while the student's minds go to waste because, “...the powers of voluntary thought and reason, of spontaneous enquiry and imagination; have not been stirred...”. p120

She goes on to speak about Continuation Schools which seem to refer to high schools, as reference is made to the fact that at one time it was the norm that, “the seventh standard boy about to leave school and take up his life work.” and again, “the average boy whose school-days are to end at fourteen”.

Remember, we're near the Industrial Age when the outcry was growing against children forming part of the work force and their need for schooling... so the subject of Continuation Classes [Poly-technic, which from the context we can deduce that these are high schools that teach a trade].

The problem with education extends and displays itself in life after school in the following ways:
"...we seem to aim at producing a nation of clerks for it is only to a clerk that this perfection of writing and spelling is a necessary training."
As a result of a faulty education, while a boy may boast of perfect execution in the kinds of work that would make a successful clerk (3R's), he may not care to boast additionally of the accompanying short attention span, low comprehension, incapability of working alone, feeble memory – which attributes will show themselves quickly in a general laborer or even a professional who at times is obliged to work at a dull job.

What we should aim for then, is that “boys are not trained to be lawyers, or parsons, or doctors, but to be men. If they have learned to work systematically and think independently they are then fit to be trained for such life and profession as taste or necessity may dictate.”

And we are happy with Paterson, who happily remarks that Universities on the other hand, “do not undertake to prepare barristers, parsons, stockbrokers, bankers, or even soldiers and sailors, with a specialised knowledge proper for each profession. Their implicit contention is, given a well educated man with cultivated imagination, trained judgment, wide interests, and he is prepared to master the intricacies of any profession; while he knows at the same time how to make use of himself, of the powers with which nature and education have endowed him for his own happiness; the delightful employment of his leisure; for the increased happiness of his neighbours and the well-being of the community; that is, such a man is able, not only to earn his living, but to live.” p121

In conclusion, I thought this quote particularly inspiring, as we think about how to educate the little persons in our charge:
"What the poor, as well as the rich, require is not to be taught other people's opinions, but to be induced and enabled to think for themselves. It is not physical science that will do this, even if they could learn it much more thoroughly than they are able to do.'
"The young people of this country are not to be regenerated by economic doctrine or economic history or physical science; they can only be elevated by ideas which act upon the imagination and act upon the character and influence the soul, and it is the function of all good teachers to bring those ideas before them.'
John Stuart Mill, quoted by CM on p127

interesting ideas from the chapter:
knowledge/idea as mind food.
apperception mass.
unit studies.
educating the whole person for life.

helpful links:
A Pot of Green Feathers.
CM Blog Carnival on Principle #9
Robinson Crusoe in Education by T.G. Rooper, a PR article (expands on related information presented in this post)
This article, and this one also, seem to be somewhat favorable to at least parts of Herbart's philosophy.
CM volume 6, ch7
Thoughts on the mind of the child and our resulting obligations, from Sally Clarkson

This has been another 'thinking out loud' post, along the lines of chapter 6 of CM's Homeschooling Series, Volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education. Did you know that the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is going through this volume systematically? Interested? Check out recent posts and the schedule for future posts here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Our Week in Nature! {NSM}

My friend Tammy says that I find the most amazing bugs. Well, that's probably only half true. I should admit of several possibly unfair advantages. For one, I have an extra ten pair* of eyes {ahem... edit required. that would be *five pair, ten total. now, how many of you actually counted??} Many times the first sighting is accomplished by one of those extended pair. Second, we live in a place with an AMAZING amount of insects. I think I can safely say that not a day goes by that I fail to see something awesome. If I am looking, that is.

Without an internet connection, it's amazing what you have time for; the things you see and can get done! I don't even get to be online tons because of a limited source of internet, but as that ran out last month, I found myself without the wisp of a possibility and I felt as free as the birds for a whole week! Here are a few of our sightings... Lamentably, I don't always get photos of everything!


I have really enjoyed reading your posts! SO. much. goodness.
Please keep sharing them!

If you care to tell others, I'd love if we were able to share more nature study encouragement!!
This is the last week to add posts to April's Nature Study Monday Linky!
(Of course, we'll start it all again next month with a brand spankin' new linky, 
but I just thought I'd add that this one will close on the last day of April. :)


Last day of the SALE!

Today is the LAST day for 30% off everything at CompassClassroom, the makers of Visual Latin and a host of other products... So, you'll have to hurry and check it out here!

And yes, sirree, I DO make a dollar or two if you click through my links, for which I THANK you! ;)

We've used various of the products here...

Compass Classroom

And here's a new product that looks 
VERY interesting to a teenager or two in my household...


P.S. I'm sorry not to have given the heads up sooner! We were without internet for a week.

Monday, April 15, 2013

thoughts on education is a life...

The section I'm talking about today is about one of my all time FAVORITE things out of many of my favorite things that Charlotte Mason wrote about: ideas as mind food. If I weren't the blessed possessor of a smidgen of self-control, you my readers may have been blessed by my having gone wild highlighting and commenting on the entire section this time, but I decided to rein myself in. I hope you'll be more glad than sad about that. Either way, sit back and enjoy, 'cause this could end up long... ;)

A mind must eat, and it is sustained on ideas. Hey wait, I've talked about this before. Whaddya know?! So did Charlotte, matter of fact, she talked about it a LOT. Because for her, it was that important. And really, it could be the most important part of education, since without such there would be none.

A mind feeds on ideas, just like the body needs food, or the locomotive needs fuel. Without fuel an engine quits. Maybe it can run on fumes for a second or two, or you could get behind it and PUSH! Or hook a body up to an IV, but those are artificial or extenuating circumstances at best, and not intended to be the way things go on forever. In the same way that lacking food a body won't function, a mind will not grow without sustenance.

“We know that food is to the body what fuel is to the steam-engine, the sole source of energy; once we realise that the mind too works only as it is fed education will appear to us in a new light.”

While a body may continue for a while on junk food, or a mind on twaddle, is that a justifiable excuse for making of these a regular diet? We all know that sawdust isn't good for us. Yet, we may have heard of times of severe drought and extreme economic distress when people have had to survive on less than nothing, making bread from tree-bark, and things not meant for human consumption. But if this persists, it follows that there will be resulting problems... perhaps with lasting or even permanent effect.

“The body pines and develops humours upon tabloids and other food substitutes; and a glance at a 'gate' crowd watching a football match makes us wonder what sort of mind-food those men and boys are sustained on, whether they are not suffering from depletion, inanition, notwithstanding big and burly bodies. For the mind is capable of dealing with only one kind of food; it lives, grows and is nourished upon ideas only; mere information is to it as a meal of sawdust to the body; there are no organs for the assimilation of the one more than of the other.”

So, ideas. Amazingly powerful things, those.
Tell me, has something like one of the following examples ever happened to you?
Idea = seed. (maybe you remember something because of a smell, or song...)
The Seed is watered. (maybe that song reminds you of a person which reminds you of 8th grade, which reminds you of your English teacher who cried in class, which reminds you that it's amazing that Shakespeare speaks to all types, even those with whom you never thought you'd have a single thing in common, which leads you to think... you get the picture, right? Ideas are alive. We experience this daily.)
The Seed gets sun. (okay, switching ideas in the middle of this illustration, I hope you don't mind... So, say you found a butterfly. The butterfly had cool patterns that looked like camouflage eyes. Then within a day or two, you see someone's posts on fb about Maria Sibylla Merian who lived in the 1600's and sailed from Germany to S.America to document insects and get this... butterflies. You look up her amazing sketches and find one that looks super similar to that butterfly you found earlier (see image at the top of the post!) and looking around further, you learn that as a result of that face-like-camo, it's named after an owl. Cool. A couple weeks later, you read about someone else who who also sailed to S.America around the same time... could they have sailed on the same voyage as Ms. Merian? Could they have met? And once again the idea tap starts flowing... and we could go about the methodical pursuit of this addictive 'idea trail' in various and sundry ways.).
The point is, ideas are the fuel we start with. Consumed and digested, they are what cause our minds to expand and grow. Let's get us some more of them!

"From the first or initiative idea, as from a seed, successive ideas germinate." "Events and images, the lively and spirit-stirring machinery of the external world, are like light and air and moisture to the seed of the mind which would else rot and perish." "The paths in which we may pursue a methodical course are manifold and at the head of each stands its peculiar and guiding idea.”

So, our kids are mini-us's. Their minds are made to feed off of ideas in the same way ours are! When they are little, it doesn't seem to matter what we think of their minds. If we misunderstand and start out by thinking they are just like a big empty bucket waiting to be filled up with letters and sentences and math facts and bible verses and dates and songs and facts and stuff, regardless of how we think of them, it will always be those same idea-stuffs that he happens upon that his mind will feed upon. He'll take what he needs of these, and all the extras will be forgotten or lost. The worst that could happen, is that all this dead weight bucket material might cause him to faint or to stumble, from which while he is yet very young, he can still probably recover. But let's not settle for fodder or filler! Let's do better! What we feed our very young children matters! Let's nourish their budding minds with the BEST!

“In the early days of a child's life it makes little apparent difference whether we educate with a notion of filling a receptacle, inscribing a tablet, moulding plastic matter, or nourishing a life, but as a child grows we shall perceive that only those ideas which have fed his life, are taken into his being;all the rest is cast away or is, like sawdust in the system, an impediment and an injury.”

Now. What about the bits that LOTS of people, including myself in my youth, have had a mind to think are unbearably boring and void of living matter, like Math? And Science? There's so much memorization of Latin names and body parts and tables and elements and formulae and hypotheses and lab book entries... We might admit, if it weren't for such an immense body of facts, it would be absolutely FASCINATING. Add some tidbits about the lives of the scientists or mathematicians and their personal dedication, struggle and sacrifice and it would be RIVETING. Why doesn't run-of-the-mill education do that for our children?

"'Scientific truths,' said Descartes, 'are battles won.' Describe to the young the principal and most heroic of these battles; you will thus interest them in the results of science and you will develop in them a scientific spirit by means of the enthusiasm for the conquest of truth . . . How interesting Arithmetic and Geometry might be if we gave a short history of their principal theorems, if the child were meant to be present at the labours of a Pythagoras, a Plato, a Euclid, or in modern times, of a Descartes, a Pascal, or a Leibnitz. Great theories instead of being lifeless and anonymous abstractions would become living human truths each with its own history like a statue by Michael Angelo or like a painting by Raphael."

Okay, so even the boring bits might be interesting if they weren't presented as a dry list of facts, or force-fed to be memorized and spit out on a test. But, how? Clothed with story. With Books, Biographies, works of Historical Fiction that bring the time period to life, dressing the naked idea with all kinds of sumptuous details and interesting facts... painlessly. The idea grows and the mind is fed, and the student learns and everybody is happy. Unless of course there is ever another drought of ideas... of course in a CM education, and many living books, this need never take place!

Here we have an application of Coleridge's 'captain-idea' of every train of thought; that is, not a naked generalisation, (neither children nor grown persons find aliment in these), but an idea clothed upon with fact, and story, so that the mind may perform the acts of selection and inception from a mass of illustrative details.

In summary, this little section, which in troth, is one of my all-time favorite quotes as mentioned previously of many, needs no commentary, it is as clear as day and as true as the Gospel:

"Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child's inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food. Probably he will reject nine-tenths of the ideas we offer, as he makes use of only a small proportion of his bodily food, rejecting the rest. He is an eclectic; he may choose this or that; our business is to supply him with due abundance and variety and his to take what he needs. Urgency on our part annoys him. He resists forcible feeding and loathes predigested food. What suits him best is pabulum presented in the indirect literary form which Our Lord adopts in those wonderful parables whose quality is that they cannot be forgotten though, while every detail of the story is remembered, its application may pass and leave no trace. We, too, must take this risk."

This has been another 'thinking out loud' post, along the lines of chapter 6 of CM's Homeschooling Series, Volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education. Did you know that the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is going through this volume systematically? Interested? Check out recent posts and the schedule for future postshere.

The Face of a Friend {NSM}

While we were trying to identify this moth in a HUGE book of Butterflies and Moths...

Whoa! check out that tail...

...flipping through the field guide, we came upon the picture of this moth we'd found and pinned last month.

Funny, we hadn't looked it up before. However, I do know WHY we didn't look it up. Same story as before. Have you ever tried to identify a butterfly?! There are LOTS of different butterflies and moths in the world, and it seems like the ones we find in real life never make it into the books.

So, it can be somewhat frustrating, that.

Anyway, a thrill came over me when I happened on the page...

It was kind of like spotting the face of a friend in a crowd, or more like happening upon a familiar face in someone else's photo album. 'Cause after you've spent time with a live thing and further, repeatedly come back to gaze at it on display, it gets to be rather like the familiar face of a friend.

Perhaps it helps that the upper sides of his wings actually LOOK like a face; an owl's face, to be precise. And we have an owl that lives nearby. Right.

Speaking of moths and butterflies...

Have you heard about Maria Sibylla Merian?! Thanks to Google, I recently learned about this awesome lady, who I am sure I would have longed to be familiar face-to-face friends with, had I too lived in the 1600's. She travelled all the way to South America to study insects... Yes. Go ahead and read that again. A woman. In the 1600's. Who travelled to S.America to study insects. Amazing.
You can read/see more about her right here:



'kay, so we're accumulating posts here for April's nature studies... care to join us?



Sunday, April 14, 2013

MEP. A math story.

This post has been written in response to some questions on the AO forum regarding our process with MEP maths, particularly how to start students in the middle years, or how we've skipped years when needed. I've added some of my general thoughts about teaching math as well. But, you are formally excused from the table if this is excruciatingly boring fare for your palate. You don't even have to feel bad. Just click away. ;)

So. Here goes...
Another realm open to Intellect has an uninviting name, and travelling therein is difficult, what with steep faces of rock to climb and deep ravines to cross. The Principality of Mathematics is a mountainous land, but the air is very fine and health-giving, though some people find it too rare for their breathing. It differs from most mountainous countries in this, that you cannot lose your way, and that every step taken is on firm ground.    v4p39

Once upon a time, we came to a definitive crossroads in our math story. One boy continued to struggle as he always had, and at the very same time, we ran plum out of math books. While I'm not a big fan of curriculum hopping, if it were ever to come to pass, this was the time. Should I stick with the same ol' or go with something new? If something new, should I go with a non-curricular approach, popular at the time with some of my friends, or with a more traditional math program? Hmmmm. Have you ever asked those questions?

Though my boys could *do* math, I realized that there was a serious lack of understanding of the concepts. This was not necessarily the fault of MUS, but most likely due to the fact that I was not really teaching them math. I didn't know how to teach math. With that said, I really don't think your average later elementary kid is just going to 'pick up' on math on his own. Yes, there are kids who like math and catch on quickly, and can work independently, and can make their way through the elementary years without much trouble. This was me years ago and now this is my second-born. Fast forward, start high school math with more abstract concepts, and if one still lacks a deeper understanding, it is by no means easy anymore.

So, we found as we were working through Math-U-See, on the whole, they could do the lessons that were asked of them, but they didn't really understand what they were doing. Read more MEP transition nitty gritty here.

Enter MEP. It was practically love at first sight.

First of all, the entire curriculum is available for free online for one's perusal. That's convenient. It's all in electronic format. That's convenient. And it's the best math curriculum I've ever seen. That's really convenient!

You see, somehow I had never realized that math could be a living subject. MEP takes complex concepts and breaks them down to the point that most are introduced as far back as YEAR ONE, and are continually touched on and subsequently built upon by lots of roundabout ways, concrete activities, and real-to-life approaches, throughout every year, so that at some point, one just kind of already seems to know how to measure volume and solve for an unknown factor, etc. without really ever having had to struggle to learn it. Well, that's been our experience, anyway, with those children with whom I have used MEP from the beginning.

Trouble was, with my older boys, I didn't know how or where to start. You see, it has been said that MEP is difficult to accelerate because of it's richness. Well, it is that same richness that makes it difficult to know where to begin. When all along your other math program hasn't introduced those building block concepts, how far back do you have to go to fill in the holes? You cannot start a fifth grader back at Y1 simply so that he gets the whole scaffolding thing. Because the fifth grader knows LOTS of it already, he needs some foundation repair, that's all. Foundation repair is more difficult when you have an existing structure, you know. However, that's whats we needs. SO, where do we begin then? We are not going to pour a whole new foundation. We're just going to patch up. And that means, we'll fix problems as we come to them. We want math to be challenging without being frustrating.

For us, this meant, I needed to start the boys about a year behind where I thought they should be in MEP. Get this, NOT where they should have been according to MEP standardized levels. They were approximately 2-3 years behind that schedule. Students taught with MEP are in standardized schools and are started at 5 years old and are given an entire schoolyear to work steadily through each year of the curriculum. In standardized schools students don't have the luxury of skipping up a year or working on a personalized plan. They do MEPy__ because they are __ years old, and are in __th grade. Period. Not so, with my childrens. Almost everything around here is custom built. Including the garden gate and my closet shelves. Custom can sometimes mean makeshift. But not always. In the case of educational plans for my eldest children, they are almost always makeshift because often I have no idea what I'm doing. I learn from them, and hopefully the second batch will turn out better as a result. :)

So, we put them back in MEPy4. With daily one-on-one lesson time, one child picked up quickly and was actually up to speed within that year, I believe. The other, who had been struggling with MUS, now struggled with MEP. It's not magic, after all. Math struggles seemed to run in his veins (he's now built up an immunity!). But, math is a subject that needs teaching. And in 30min/day per lesson, we made the transition. I admit that MEP requires teacher time. But as a homeschooling mom, that's what I'm here for, right? :) Now, wait a second, I totally get the whole 'I have lots of kids though!' thing. I am not saying it's easy. It's not. I was sort of rebellious at first. But I'm SO glad we stuck through.

I had my struggler take a term to do a Life of Fred book. We plowed on with MEP. There were days. Let me tell you there were days. Little by little we worked through the new concepts and the new way of looking at math. I resigned myself to the idea that he might always be a year behind his younger brother. And he would probably never love math. Some people are built for math and others are not. That's absolutely okay. But, they must be disciplined to DO math, to take the time, even if it isn't their strong point. And we learned this.

We are so made that truth, absolute and certain truth, is a perfect joy to us; and that is the joy that mathematics afford. Also, there is great joy in standing by, as it were, and watching our own thought work out an intricate problem.   v4p63

Last year, miracles happened. Or it finally clicked. Whatever. In AmblesideOnline's y7, Javen was in y6 and Cullen in y7. Everything was going fine. Most days. Except for my anxiety that they would only finish junior high math in high school. Uh, slight problem. WAY back when I was researching MEP, I came on a homeschool conversion chart. I don't know who made it, or how true it is, but it says, that since MEP years 7 & 8 have a lot of repetition, they might be skipped. I was pretty much banking on it. So, when we got to the end of that year, I hesitatingly went forward and put them both straight into y9. It worked. And guess what?! I'm not sure when the pivot turned but, struggler, struggles no more.

Can I hear a big “Hallelujah”, please? :)

SO. whether or not MEP was meant to do just that, we've found that it is possible. I think it is a workaround for kids who don't start off in MEP, and I would still recommend going through the years in order, at the regular speed. I think that's best. But, if you didn't start way back at the beginning as did my younger children, there is still hope!

Now. An important note.
I have seen success with my boys and now with my younger kids using MEP, not because it is a miracle math curriculum. Though I am quite infatuated with it. :) I am confident our success is because of time spent every. single. day. with. each. student., working through the lessons, not verbatim mind you, but usually covering 50-80% of the lesson plan. I have learned the hard way, that I must take the time to check their work (this is how to check for comprehension), and go over problem areas (this is how to ensure mastery). As I postulated at the beginning of this post, for 90% of kids, it isn't going to be enough to send them off to teach themselves math. And though it is a significant chunk of my time, at the end of the day, I really believe it to be worth it! :)

I hope this has been helpful!
Please feel free to add your thoughts and experiences in the comments! ;)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

orthoptera. sounds like...? {NSM}

helicóptero. that's helicopter in spanish. okay, so it doesn't really sound anything like it if you pronounce both words correctly in their respective languages... but still, one reminds me of the other. ;) which got me thinking, i bet there's some correlation with word roots, prefixes, suffixes and stuff... which got me looking around a bit, and i happened upon a very cool site with the following information, which may or may not be of interest to you:

orth(o)– {straight, correct}:anorthite, orthochromatic, orthoclase, orthodontia, orthodox, orthognathic, orthogonal, orthographic, orthopedic, Orthoptera, orthotics, orthotropic || Gr orthos: straight, correct

pter– {feather, wing}: apterous, apteryx, brachypterous, Chiroptera, Coleoptera, Diptera, helicopter, Hemiptera, Heteroptera, Isoptera, Lepidoptera, Mecoptera, ornithopter, pterodactyl, pterosaur, Siphonoptera, Trichoptera, accipiter ||  Gr  pteron: wing, feather

of course, i could have just looked up the word in a dictionary... which says:
ORIGIN modern Latin (plural), from ortho-‘straight’ + Greek pteros ‘wing.’

right. that would've been quicker.
but, i'd never have found the cool site with the cool name. cognatarium. that's cool.
(see helpful links, below)

i knew it had to do with language. i love learning languages. root words are super helpful with that!

we caught most of these a couple of days ago... but saved the study part over 'til today.

so this week we covered: 
waterfall. newt. ground cricket. round headed katydid.
i added all the orthopteras to that page in my nature journal. 
do you think those leaves might have been similar to those that eve used?

helpful links:
*"The Cognātarium is a lexicon of English-language cognates; that is, words related by common origin. In English many words are formed from compounds of two or more word stems from the original language. In the great majority of words listed here in this lexicon, those original words stem from ancient Latin and Greek. For example, helicopter and pterodactyl both contain the root stem pter–, which means wing in the original Greek."
*Learn that Word's Root Words & Prefixes - QUICK REFERENCE! & Suffix page
*{nature study monday!} see linky below...

It's fun to share!
Bookmark this post (or use the link in the menu bar), come back and share YOUR nature study posts for the whole month of April in the brand spankin' new LINKY right below...

have i ever told you how cool that linky tools thing is? it's this thing where you can enter the link to your blog post into one of my blog posts (don't forget to add a picture!), so that anyone who comes to my blog will see your link and head on over from my place to your place... it can turn into a cool little gathering! well, the guy who owns linky tools, brent riggs, is really cool, too. he's super helpful. and i highly recommend that you check him out! and i'm not getting paid to say that! ;)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

flood relief update.

Here's a little update on what's happening in our part of the world.

There's been major flooding along the river, as bad as they've seen it in many a long year... read:
Flood Relief

Even though the waters have now receded, many families have lost their entire crop with which they would normally sustain themselves as well as generate a tiny income. today, we sent a truckload... read:
To the Rescue!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Need to get a Handel on something?! {amy's amazing amazon links}

Well, I haven't listened in yet, but there's this seemingly amazing deal on a Handel mp3 album.
There are 302 tracks, with over 14 hours of music. You might even get tired of Handel, but at least you'll have enough to last a lifetime, so you can afford to spread it out a little.

Click and grab it for less than a DOLLAR!

Go directly, and tell them I sent you. :)

And have you ever read anything by Thomas Tapper?
Well, he's super and there's a FREE kindle book on... wait, you'll never guess...
That's right! Handel. So, while you're there, grab that too.

I hope you have enjoyed the latest installment of {amy's amazing amazon finds}!!
Brought to you from the AMAZON.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Birds of Prey. {Nature Study Monday - April}

So, there I was, walking exactly 6.0 mph (I happen to know this for a fact, because I was on the treadmill). I was reading, I can't remember what, but whatever it was, I'm sure it was interesting. When what to my wondering eyes doth appear, but a BIRD OF PREY right outside my window.

Let me tell you, I tried not to fall off the treadmill. I tossed my kindle *gently* onto a nearby bed, grabbed my camera (always close by), and high tailed it toward the kitchen which is in the other extreme of the building we call home.  I suspect I may have pushed speeds upwards of 9.0 mph, but there's no telling for sure. I ran out the back door, up the stairs, over the ramp (I stepped softly 'cause it's made of metal, and I thought for sure it'd scare the bird away) and back through the length of the second floor of our 'building', which is under construction, over to the opening, that would be a window if it wasn't the size of an oversized garage door, stopping directly over the room with the treadmill.

Are you still with me?

Well, you'll be glad to know that the bird was still there too. He was right there on the wooden post that holds up all those ugly wires. You know, the one I'm generally ill-favored towards because of it's unsightliness. Yes, that one. Well, I couldn't have felt happier that day about the post. It upheld a bird I'd never seen before in our neighborhood. And it was a big bird. And for some reason, these things make me wild with delight.

I know, I'm weird like that.

Anyway. I took pictures. I listened to him. I was delighted. He was so... stately.

Not long after I watched him fascinated for a few minutes, I turned and saw, perched on the lines of the post nearest to where I stood, that there seemed to be a gathering of all of my regular bird friends. The nice little birds that visit us every single day, their very regularity is such that I can measure the time of day by their visit. The colorful, cute, conversational ones, that come around in pairs. They all seemed to be looking nervously in the same direction.

Suddenly to my horror, the previously perceived admirable bird, non-chalantly flew over to a nearby undecidedly bushy tree where I happen to know there are several of the friendly birds' nests. He flapped down directly from the top and landed there in the uppermost part and subsequently seemed to be pouncing and flouncing his wings all the while maintaining his incessant piercing calls. I even thought I heard baby birds, but I didn't want to believe it. And there I was, filming it. A Bird of Prey.

I stayed all the way to the end. I tried to communicate my condolences to the grave gathering on the power lines nearby. I stood appalled at the seeming injustice of it all, but mostly just felt compassion for my little domestically minded friends, who sat there thinking about how they would start their families over next year and hope for the best, I suppose. I tried to send telepathic messages warning that they'd better try and hide their nests a little better and not put them so near the top of the tree bush next time. What else can you do?

I continued to watch the hawks, in disapproval as he and she (there were two, actually) flew around the neighborhood, stopping at all the tallest places taking similar action as the one had performed upon our nearby tall tree-ish bush. And I mourned all the baby birds. The kids joined me for this second tree-hopping part, and we ran from opening to opening (someday they'll be windows), watching and listening. I didn't tell them everything I knew and all that I suspected. Not yet.

We watched our solemn doves, out early that morning. I imagined they were sad too. I had found their eggs empty and broken on the floor of the second story only a couple of weeks before. Empathetically, they looked down on us and cooed.

Why am I shocked by these things? We know it happens. But my mother heart can't help remonstrating at these birds' seeming mercilessness. Why can't they just eat the annoying things, like rats. Or even the frogs. The frogs keep us awake at night when it's rainy. The things that annoy me. Because I am the center of the universe, right? Well, there are answers and there are probably even deeper parallels that someday will be revealed to me. Until then, I comfort myself with the thought that God sends food for the little birds and for the hawks too.

Later, Siah and I took out the field guide, and he discovered that the bird of prey was called a 'Roadside Hawk'. And though, slightly disappointed that it wasn't something more tropical, I was happy to be able to put a face with a name.

Multiple times in the days since, Siah has brought up the Roadside Hawk. He seems proud of his new acquaintance. I did fill him in on what Roadside Hawks eat, and he was quick to console me by telling me that he already knew. He'd seen 'the red on the hawk's chest feathers in the picture'. He seemed to take it all in stride and think none the worse of Mr. Hawk. And I'm glad for that.

B. m. occiduus (Bangs, 1911) – east Peru, west Brazil (south of Amazon, west of Madeira River) and north Bolivia.

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