Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Field's Trip

I am sitting in a classroom and the only sounds I hear are the wind blowing and a lawnmower in the distance.  This is a rare day indeed -- the first one this term where I get the school to myself.  Granted, I had my kindies this morning.  They didn't get to go on the much anticipated field's trip to Winnipeg.  There are seven of them.  That is too many five-year-olds to keep an eye on, the trip to Winnipeg too long and who knows how kindergartners will sit through a few Imax movies. 

It was the parents' decision to keep them home.  They will get a local fun trip some time this week.

I took the opportunity of having them alone and did an art project which we have been waiting to try -- Plasticine art  by Barbara Reid.  She has a series of great videos and written instructions of her techniques on her website.  There is also a gallery of student art to view which my students enjoyed immensely.  

So here are our master-pieces!  I must say I expected to work a few days on these, but this is kindergarten...and we just DO!

Now, I must get back to work.  I have started on end-of-year clean-up.  I know I should do reports, but I find I work better in a cleaner environment!

Cedar Waxwing basking in the evening sun

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Butterfly Hunt

I have a class of butterfly enthusiasts.  It helps not only that we raised a swarm of Painted Lady butterflies, but also the fact that this seems to be the year of the BUTTERFLY!  Anyone else notice the great number of them this year?  Monarchs, yellow swallow-tails, painted ladies, mourning cloaks, cabbage whites!!!  (y' know, the little green worms in your salad!), there is a multitude of them all!  I have even seen the hummingbird moth which I had only seen once before around here.  I wonder what brings the population up so?  Is it the weather?  
Cabbage White
A quick search brought up this article.  Seems like a break in a drought made for ideal conditions and these insects flourished.  
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
We went butterfly hunting this week.  We kept a list of the kinds and the number of each.  As each count is, we of course missed lots, but  this was great practice in identifying some of the different varieties found around here.  The cabbage whites, a gardeners nightmare, are especially numerous!  
Cabbages whites -- really enjoying the sage in my flower garden.
Painted Lady
I made the mistake of taking butterfly nets.  They were tucked away in the corner of the storage room and I couldn't resist.  I did a talk on what to 'catch', how to handle, and how to release butterflies unharmed.  But of course kids end up chasing and wildly running and the butterfly count becomes a hunt...  
Our sketchy count...

Tiger Swallowtail - 3
Monarch -- 23
Cabbage White -- 70
Painted Lady -- 7
Mourning Cloak -- 1

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stinkin' Cute

Origami Butterflies
... instructions can be found here.

We made these origami butterflies a few weeks ago as one of our theme activities.  

Seeing that the fox differed by only a few folds we attempted these too.  Every one had a few finished ones and I am always happy to see that some students go off on a tangent once the know how to do this.

Origami Fox Family - created by one of my students in Grade 2. 
Instructions can be found here.

These are quite simple to make and after a few tries my students' fox collection grew to a family group!  The brown paper is origami paper and the orange is simply sheets from a desk note block and plain paper cut down to size.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Annual SEEDS Bird Count

Every year our class participates in the SEEDS annual bird count.  The weather was great these last two days so we got our recording things, binoculars, and camera and headed out.  From past experience we know that nobody wants to carry bird ID books after the first 5 minutes so those are left behind.  We try to cover different areas on the place.  It is a wonderful opportunity to observe not only birds, but also plants and insects.  

These are some of the insects we saw on our walk.  The butterfly is a monarch.  We saw several fluttering past.  On one of the dandelions is a wasp and a bumblebee.  We know it's a wasp because its body is smooth.  It has no hair like a bee has.  Its stripes also go up and down instead of sideways.

Some of the blooming plants seen were the white Canada anemone, common silver-weed, and of course dandelions.  Today was the first time this year that we saw lady slippers.  We do not pick them so that other people can also enjoy them.  We also want to make sure that we will always have them.

These pictures show the difference between the red-winged blackbird male and female.   The brown bird is the female.  We also saw the common blackbird, however this year we did not see any yellow-headed blackbirds which are very common in our area.

The robin is a baby.  It is called a fledgling when it first comes out of the nest.  We could go real close to it without it flying away. The black and white duck is a scoup, and the last picture is of a mallard.  We saw many other birds but could not get any pictures of them.  All together we saw 1344 ducks and 854 seagulls.  Our grand total of birds we saw was 4559.

Written with help from my students.