Friday, May 27, 2011

Pond Peering

Guess it's bound to happen after a year of rain-free field trips - it rained on our pond peering workshop at VanDusen Garden!

The turtles and frogs were in hiding, but we spotted a whole family of ducks and quite a few fish. Even in the rain, the kids were as always way more enthusiastic than us wimpy parents.
("I need a tea...") When they were instructed to collect some pond water and to fish for pond organisms with a net, they all plopped down on their belly and went right to work without a moment of hesitation. Serena found 4 damselfly nymphs (for sure), a mosquito larva (possibly), and a few tiny scuds (we think). We had the opportunity to revisit what we've learnt on food chains, food web, and habitats. It was all good, though I really could use a cup of nice hot tea...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tongue Twisters

Can you say these tongue twisters in one breath?

+ Tikitikitembonosarembo Charibariruchipiperipembo
+ How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood
+ Plumpy's plum puffs and the purple platypus (Serena made this one up!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

An Inspired Poet

by Serena Ippel

Inspiration: "The Cardinal" by Deborah Ruddell
from "Today At the Bluebird Cafe - a branchful of birds"

Coconut flakes and ice-cream shakes;
Diamonds and pearls,
A snow-covered world;
A lace trimmed dress,
A bridegroom's vest;
Vanilla ice-cream,
Strawberries with whipped cream!
A fluffy white cat
On a very white mat;
A white chocolate almond
And a glittering diamond.
His feathers so light
And perfectly white!

Friday, May 20, 2011

HCOS Fun Day

Spring weather has finally arrived this week, thank God! Nate Farr from Heritage Christian Online School (HCOS) has kindly invited all the homeschooling families to a North Vancouver Fun Day on Wednesday. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, the deer came wandering - it was a great day to be out!

I never knew we have a dam in North Vancouver... The Cleveland Dam offered an impressive sight from both the top and the bottom. We learned that the dam supplies about 40% of our drinking water. A short hike from the bottom of the dam through some amazing old growth trees was the Capilano Salmon Hatchery. We really should play tourists in our town more often!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Emmaline and the Bunny

Emmaline really wanted a bunny. She lived in a city called Neatasapin and the mayor named Orson Oliphant wanted everything to be very tidy, more tidy than tidy. He banned all the animals from the city.

Emmaline's not tidy, very untidy. Emmaline liked to yell, "Hoopalala!" and "Dinglederrydee!". And none of the other kids liked to play with her because they're too tidy to play with her. Orson Oliphant wanted to fix Emmaline! And Orson Oliphant wanted no buts! Emmaline was forced to be tidy and if she was tidy, she could get a bunny. She saw some bunnies at the pet store but the owner said that they were tidy bunnies. She didn't want tidy bunnies. She wanted bunnies that would scoot-skiddadle with her.

One day she was under the table drawing bunnies when she heard people say there's a place very untidy with weeds and shrubs and wild bunnies. Emmaline tried to peek inside the shrub and she sighed, "Dunglederrydoo" because she couldn't get in. And then she saw a wild bunny! They played follow-the-leader, and the bunny was of course the leader. Emmaline dug a hole and sat in it. The bunny came from under the shrub and snuggled next to her leg. She went everyday to visit the bunny. One day a hawk came and tried to take the bunny. Emmaline knew that hawks were enemies of bunnies. Bunny was okay but it got very scared. Emmaline got very scared too. She promised bunny that she'd always take care of bunny.

Then she met a lady, the owner of the bunny. She said that if Emmaline made an invitation (not an invitation letter) but one of those invitations that you can make for animals like a safe place, then maybe the bunny could live with her. Emmaline made an invitation in her backyard by growing weeds and plants and bushes. A deer came, some songbirds came, some chipmunks came, but no bunny. Finally one day the bunny came!

Orson Oliphant was not happy with the place, he wanted to fix it. He said, "Fix it!" but Emmaline's parents said, "Go away, we're not going to fix it!" Then he turned purple and green then orange and floated away because he got so much hot air in him. He floated into a town with people who were very grumpy.

In the end, bunny lived with Emmaline and she said, "Hoopadinglelaladee!"

Monday, May 16, 2011


Where did you get all these worms??
I got them at the park. I dug in lots of dirt and I grabbed them with my hands!

Aren't they slippery?
Very! They tried to escape from our bucket!

What happens if you break the worm in half?
It will stay alive for a little bit and then it will die.

Did you find any big ones?
Two VERY big ones! One of them was fatter than daddy's finger! The other one was super long!

How did you manage to find so many?
They popped up while we were digging. After it rains, their homes underground get flooded, and they can't breathe, so they have to come to the surface. That's why we found so many, because it just rained!

What did you do with the worms when you got home?
We showed our friends next door and my friends' mom was grossed out! And we looked at the worms with the microscope. Then I put the 2 biggest worms in our strawberry plant and the rest in the compost.

Would you ever try eating worms?
No way! I was just pretending to eat worms with chopsticks!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


We wrapped up our last big project for this school year - OWLS! It's our first time participating in a Science Fair & Share (organized by the South Delta Home Learners). I took my hands off of this one; Serena & Daddy shouldered the entire project together. It was interesting to observe the differences in our approach and the dynamic between daddy & daughter - they certainly had lots of laughs together! Researching with Mom usually starts at the library; with Dad, it's YouTube. Daddy definitely has the fun factor! They had a hoot watching different owl clips, particularly the Transformer Owl. I must say, it got her quite pumped for the project!

Thankfully they did do some "serious" research at O.W.L. where they had a tour of the owls in rehabilitation there. They also brought 2 owl pellets home for dissection. It was quite a messy ordeal but uncovering the bones was very exciting. Serena had to meticulously sort and identify the different bones which was trying for a 7-year old. With Daddy's help, they were able to put together the skeleton of a rodent and a mole, not bad at all for their very first pellet dissection!

At the Science Fair & Share, there were projects on hummingbirds, volcanoes, crystals, electricity, light, tidal pools, earthworms, ants, etc. Each participant submitted a question regarding their projects for a quiz sheet. The kids had fun going from one display to another, finding answers to all the questions while learning from each other's projects. Serena's question was, "What type of bug does an owl allow to clean its feathers?" The answer is in one of the pictures here, so look closely!

Serena has learnt lots on owls, and she will tell you that not only is there such a thing as a Transformer Owl, but there's also a barred owl that likes to say "Who cooks for you?"...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fantastic Flowers

Serena has always loved flowers. We started taking her to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival since she was about 3. You know she's in her happy place when she skips instead of walk and has a running commentary on everything she sees.

Providentially, a week later we had a YNC field trip, "Fantastic Flowers", to the VanDusen Garden. The children learned the parts of a flower and the function of pollinators. Serena chose to be a mason bee as the kids took the roles of different pollinators to collect and distribute pollen from flower to flower.

Speaking of providence, we happened to have loaned a handheld digital microscope from a friend recently. This cool little gadget captures the magnified images of specimen directly on the computer. Serena looked like a real scientist at work!

Now that we've learned about the different parts of a flower, we had fun taking our tulips apart and examining them under the microscope. (Serena has collected a bunch of fallen tulip bulbs from our Skagit Valley trip.)

Praise God for springtime blossoms!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Dream Stealer

Serena recently finished reading The Dream Stealer, another book by Sid Fleischman, the author of The Whipping Boy.

Which book do you like better, The Whipping Boy or The Dream Stealer?

What is The Dream Stealer about?
It's about a little girl named Susana and a dream stealer named Zumpango. Zumpango was scared of stealing bad dreams, so he started to steal good dreams. One time he stole a dream from Susana and she wanted it back. It's about her adventure going to try to get her dream back.

Where does the story take place?
In Mexico!

Why has the Dream Stealer decided to steal happy dreams instead of nightmares?
He was scared of stealing bad dreams because the monsters and ogres would come to life and chase him!

Do you feel sorry for the Dream Stealer?
I feel sorry for Zumpango because he lives all alone with only his butler for company.

What would you do if someone is stealing your happy dreams?
I would go chase it and get my dream back!

How does the Dream Stealer regain his courage?
By watching how brave Susana was. She reminded him of himself when he was young.

Why do you think Susana decides to be the Dream Stealer's friend?
Because he was kind to her, he saved her from the monsters and he kept his promise to find her dream.

The Dream Stealer stores children's dreams as fireflies. If you could store your dreams as an animal, an object, or something else, what would you choose?
Sea shells! Because they are pretty and because they are perfect for holding special things.

** Discussion questions selected from HarperCollins Teacher's Guide.