If I am being honest, when homeschool friends would push to get outside and learn about nature--- I would just roll my eyes. It's hot 95% of the year here. It's sticky. Humid. Nasty. I mean, what can you really learn from a leaf? or tree? or in this case.. a spider.
Well, now that I've given in a bit, I realize that it opens up the world of curiosity for us. Nature is beautiful.
Here's the perfect example:
We have been finding spiders near our house--- in particular under the awning. We always throw it off as " oh, it's just a banana spider." My experience with these "banana spiders" are that they don't ever move even if you mess with their web, so I am not too concerned with them being near. As long as it doesn't crawl on me or jump on me, we are good.
We were hurricane-prepping (yes, that's a thing here in South Louisiana) and my son noticed a spider with an egg sack on the wiring we had over our old garden. He snapped a pic and sent it to me--- "Mom, she must have laid eggs."
At the time, I didn't notice the egg sack. What I noticed was ANOTHER banana spider around the house. Or so I thought.
I made a comment asking him how he knew the spider laid eggs and he said "because of the two huge egg sacks next to her." Since it was cooler outside, we decided to go take a look.
Part of our schooling this year is learning how to properly research. I do believe Facebook ****gasp**** can be a great resource.
Let me explain. There are thousands of groups on Facebook. Some are for entertainment, some are to share great, valuable information.
Such is the case of Bug Identification Group - People Helping Others ID Bugs
I've used this group in the past to ask about other bugs we have found in the yard or neighborhood. Like this gorgeous Luna Moth that found her place underneath our boat.
After posting the picture of the what we thought was a "banana spider" I realized that it was NOT indeed a banana spider, but an Argiope aurantia - Black and Yellow Argiope.
Apparently the two are often confused. I googled Argiope aurantia - Black and Yellow Argiope (this name was provided to me in the Facbeook group above--had I not had this group to ask in- I would have NOT known what to search for)--- vs Banana spider and came across this source:
Here's what I learned:
Argiope aurantia (black-and-yellow argiope spider) :
N. clavipes (banana spider):
Now that the differences have been pointed out, it seems so obvious that they are indeed----- different.
So what did nature teach us today?
How do we plan to further our research?
Update as of 9/27/21:
Jon has done some research on the differences between the two on YouTube. He shared with me some interesting facts that I was not aware of. This week, I plan to make him learn about the anatomy of one of spiders and to draw a diagram for me. He's great at drawing. I am excited to see what he does with this!
I am always looking for new ideas to help with educating our kids. Facebook can be a great resource.
I came across this page : The Best Ideas for Kids and decided to try out an idea to teach number identification.
On a whim, I looked through our supplies and found everything we needed:
Toiler paper rolls
One thing we learn from homeschooling is how to improvise and how to be resourceful.
We didn't have enough toilet paper rolls so we grabbed a paper towel roll that was just about done being used and cut the roll into three more pieces. We had 7 rolls we could work with now.
Finn's job was to paint each popsicle stick the corresponding color of the number painted on the rolls.
Mom did the numbers. Finn did the popsicle sticks. I remember when she first started painting she had a shaky hand and made a huge mess. It's been great to watch how steady her hand has become and how precise she tries so hard to be.
When we paint, we typically use paper plates as pallets but this time we didn't have any in the cabinet so we decided to look for cardboard. We usually keep a box or two here and there to paint/draw/color/write on.
We ended up using the cardboard bottom of a water bottle case. Worked perfectly!
We had a little system going on. I would paint the rolls with the number on it, then stick the number of popsicle sticks inside the roll until Finn was ready to paint them.
We let the popsicle sticks dry over night. I will need to find a way to secure the rolls to a platform.. more than likely another piece of cardboard we have laying around the house, but this afternoon we won't have much extra time before soccer.
Eventually she was over painting the popsicle sticks and wanted to paint something else. She found her dad's Styrofoam cup and decided to have at it! She decorated the entire cup and then stuck her paint brushes inside after she was done painting. Brilliant! She now has a place to store her brushes!
This was the aftermath. She was covered with paint. It was fun running with her across the house to the bathroom so we could clean up. The belly laugh was worth it enough to me.
What did we learn?
Identifying (some) numbers
Edited to add on 9/6/21:
This was our finished product. We ended up not painting the back side of the popsicle sticks and use the pallet made from the bottom of the water bottle case to secure the paper towel rolls.
My OCD heart wants the pieces to stand up straight and tall, not lean and fit just perfectly, but my unschooling momma's heart knows this is just perfect for what we need.
I see a turkey project idea coming from this!
Until next time,
Brandi & Finn
As a homeschooling mom who found that her children thrived more when living life together instead of being stuck in a classroom 8 hours a day, I turned my love of travel and educating my kids into the perfect mix: unschooling.