The Hungry Little Monarch Caterpillar

At the end of April, we visited the butterfly garden that we planted at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.  We were ecstatic to see monarchs in the garden!  Not only did we see monarchs but we gathered the eggs.  At this time, I had no idea what we were getting into.

So the caterpillar nursery began.  After about a week, twelve of the fourteen caterpillars came into the world.  These hungry little guys ate and ate and ate!  They initially measured a mere 1 mm long!  After two weeks of nibbling away at the milkweed leaves, the caterpillars were about the size of my son’s pinky finger!

I started getting concerned that I would not be able to keep up with their appetites!  They are veracious eaters.  Initially, I thought that they would only eat the leaves, but the ended up eating every bit of each stalk of milkweed that I placed in with them. One afternoon, I started calling around to find milkweed to feed them, but lucky for me I found them forming Js at the top of the enclosure.

We even got to watch one of them form its chrysalis.  It was absolutely amazing.  Then for another 10 days or so, we had 12 gem-like chrysalis hanging in our kitchen.

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We went away for the weekend and came home to an amazing sight!

We had several dark colored chrysalis and several butterflies!  We observed them for a day and were entranced by their beauty.  We watched several of them emerge from their chrysalis and grasp onto the edge of the chrysalis as they dried their wings.  When all twelve had emerged and dried, we brought them out to the garden and released them.  It was a bittersweet moment.

Hopefully, we will get the opportunity to find more eggs this summer so that we can tag them.  Monarchs migrate to Mexico each year.  The generation that we released will lay more eggs here and their offspring should be the ones to make the journey.  We will let you know if we get to do it again!

Grade 8 Project

Eighth grade!  Wow!  Eight grade!  I cannot believe that our homeschooling journey began six years ago, and that we made it this far.  My oldest child began homeschooling in the third grade after a less than good experience in traditional school.  I was a nervous wreck about pulling him out of school and taking on the responsibility of teaching him.  Looking back, I am so glad that I did.

Sims and Lily

These two met in kindergarten and have homeschooled together through the 6 years! All grown up!

When I pulled my kids from school, I had many ideas in my head for what I wanted to do over the next years.  One of my ideas was an eighth grade project.  When I mentioned this to my son last summer, he was ecstatic.  He came up with enormous projects-rebuilding a car, rebuilding a sail boat, building a bouldering wall in his room,….the list went on and on.  Obviously, these projects were slightly larger than what I had in mind.

We came to  a compromise.  At fourteen, people can get their boaters licence here in North Carolina.  He decided to take the class to get his boaters licence and to work on his grandfather’s fishing boat to get it up and running.

His grandfather brought the boat up in the fall.  Sims worked on the trolling motor first.  Before the age of fourteen, a person can only operate a motor that is less than 10 horse power on the lake; so the trolling motor was perfect.  He and his buddies putted around the lake at a very slow speed!

The first adventure!

One long boat ride with the trolling motor!

Right before his fourteenth birthday, Sims completed the boater’s course, which consisted of 6 sections that had to be passed and a final exam.  Passing the course meant that he could now take the boat out and use the actual engine.  He was ecstatic.

He and his friend took the boat out.  It made it about 200 feet before it stopped.  LOL!  They paddled in and then the engine work began.  Since that time, he has also built a platform inside the boat so that they have more room to stand and fish.  Overall, I think his project was a definite success.  I also think it will be a project that he will keep learning from over the next few years!

Block 8: 2016/2017

Block 8!  I cannot believe we are getting close to the end of the year!  Not only was block 8 full of school, it was full of activities!

Grade 4: Norse Myths

This month, Parks finished up his study of the Norse myths.  He told me that the myths have been his favorite part of the year.  He loves the stories, which is good since he has heard them many times before.  We continued to use the D’Aularis book of Norse Myths.

Grade 6: Business Math

Sawyer LOVED this month (in fact, she is going to keep working on it through May).  For this block, I purchased the Bookstore curriculum from Simply Charlotte Mason.  She developed a logo, decided on her inventory, and began working through the book.  The program introduces real life scenarios, such as road construction occurred in front of your store; thus, you lost some of your sales.  Of course, these scenarios brought about a lot of discussions-especially about our small town that is going through quite a few construction projects lately.

Grade 8: Government and Civics

I originally planned on only going over US government with Sims, but our discussions turned us in another discussion.  This allowed him to learn about other types of governments and to compare/contrast them to the US government.  We also all fell in love with the game CIVITAS.  It is a quick card game that teaches about different government types.

Our month of activities!

Monarch Butterflies-Follow-Up

The monarchs are here!

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In November 2015, we worked on a monarch butterfly garden at our local nature center.  The kids worked extremely hard on the garden-ripping out poke weed, prepping the soil, planting a ton of plants in the milkweed family, watering the garden and trying to figure out how to keep people off of the area.  You can read about the garden building in this post.

Last spring, the garden did not come up!  We were shocked.  All of the hard work and nothing came up.  Obviously, we did not have any monarchs visiting the garden.  Imagine our surprise when after our hike this week, we checked on our garden.  It is flourishing!  The plants came up so well that we may transplant some of them to another area in the nature center.  Now plants are exciting, but monarchs are even better!  We observed a monarch laying eggs on the leaves.  Next we will collect the eggs and help them hatch in a safe place.  Unfortunately, monarch eggs rarely make it due to other parasites and insects.  We are hoping to tag some of them too so that we can watch their migration!

Block 7: 2016/2017

For block 7, we worked together on more North American Geography.  In December, the kids worked through Canada.  This month, we worked through the United States and how the land forms/water forms and history impacted the growth of the United States.  For this block, we used two main resources-Pin It! Maps and the book, “The American West.”

 

The Pin It! Maps are a terrific resource to look at the expansion of the US over the years.  Using the maps in conjunction with the stories brought the stories to life for the kids.  We followed the path that Lewis and Clark explored.  We looked at the southern US and Mexico and learned about the Mexican-American War.  We started with the Native American tribes who lived in the area prior to the Europeans and moved through the fifty states.

We also went on several hikes this month.  The weather is beginning to warm up, and we are thoroughly enjoying it!

Picture Post of the Week.

We had a fun week enjoying the sunshine!  Monday Sims and I went for a hike while the younger two went to ecology class.  Tuesday, Nick surprised us and took the day off (it was his birthday).  We headed to Crowders Mountain State Park and went for a hike.  Wednesday, Sims headed to our local high school to see what school is like (he concluded that he still likes homeschooling and would like to continue).  Thursday, we hit the barn to ride in the fields.  I hope everyone is beginning to see some signs of spring too!

Taproot Teacher Training 2017

Last August, I attended the 2016 Taproot Teacher Training hosted by Barbara Dewey and Jean Miller in Ohio.  I had no idea how life changing the experience would be.  Eight months later, I still refer back to my notes and think about the weekend.

Why do I bring up this training class now?  Well, registration for the 2017 Taproot Teacher Training is up!  I highly recommend this training!

If you think:

I am not a 100% follower of the Waldorf homeschooling method.  Well, neither am I.  I like the feel of Waldorf.  I like the way the information is taught through stories.  Humans have used stories for centuries.  We learn so much from stories.  I love the way creativity is weaved into the lessons.  I use pieces of the Waldorf method everyday, but I am far from 100% Waldorf.  This was probably my number one concern about attending, but I am so glad that I did not let it stop me.

It is too far.  I thought that too, but the drive was amazingly peaceful.  How long has it been since you got to drive in your car by yourself?  Listening to your own music?  Ohio is also surprisingly beautiful.

It is too expensive.  The weekend is worth every penny.  I gained an amazing education AND had fantastic accommodations, food, fellowship, and relaxation.

Most home school education activities push you to purchase their curriculum.  Nope.  There is no pressure here to purchase anything.  In fact, I went home with the courage to find books to use as my curriculum instead of purchasing.  I spent less on curriculum this year than I ever have!  I felt empowered to trust my own judgments on the stories I chose to support the lessons.

I have not received any compensation for writing this page.  I simply believe in this workshop!  You can read about my experience last year on this page.

If you are interested and/or have any questions, check out the Taproot Teacher Training website!