A happy heart makes the face cheerful...Proverbs 15:13

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Week 3 Nature Study: BIRDS

An injured Red tail hawk. On display while healing.

My apologies for lacking the past few weeks. We have completed all of our Autumn nature studies except for our pumpkin studies. For week 2:Trees. The boys went out with grandpa for a hike and discovered many oak trees and talked about acorns. Also, what the purpose of acorns are. They completed the note-booking pages with all of the information. I will post the pictures of their note booking pages soon.

I have to say that the bird and squirrel study was the best study this season. We tried to find birds that we are not use to seeing everyday, like cardinals and robins.
We are lucky to have a state park that has an amazing ornithology center. We were able to use interactive computers, view taxidermy birds in a habitat and watch live birds in their natural habitat through a huge viewing window.

M6 choose the hairy woodpecker. We did get to see this bird on the feeders, but could not get a picture so we had to look at it more in the research books. They had an interactive section on the computer for this bird as well. So, we got to hear its 'song'(Which is compared to that of a toucan) and its migration pattern.

L9 Chose a killdeer. (Because he liked his name) It was not around to view this season so hopefully we can actually view it in spring. However, there was a taxidermy version to view as well as the interactive section on the computer. We realized that the 'song' of this bird is one that we hear often on walks and such, but don't ever see. Here is a website to hear the killdeer song:

They each filled out a note booking page for their bird of choice.

K3 was all over the place with excitement. He enjoyed walking around with binoculars around his neck pretending to be an explorer. KJ2 Enjoyed listening to the sounds on the interactive programs. He especially enjoyed all the crazy duck sounds.

We focused a lot more on the birds than the squirrels. They boys got a kick out of the fact that the squirrels in this park are ...well....kind of obese. They looked like huge cuddly mini-cats :) They named the fattest one..chunky butt. Hey, they are boys.

I mentioned in the original post describing this nature study that you could make this a a more in depth study. You could focus a week on the new bird, its sound, and habitat. Then the 2ND week on a birds structural and internal structures, feathers, and purpose of wings.

What birds do you choose for this study? Are they local to only your state or to the U.S.?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Coupon Deals and Freezer Meals

Coupon Deals:
For the longest time I struggled with using coupons. It is just a lot of time, and sorting...ugh. I could never just sit and do it and when I did, the savings were never worth the time.
Well, recently I was introduced and revised a way to use coupons to save a good amount of money while having an organized menu.
I normally only use Meijer because they double coupons. Meaning any coupon under .50 cents, you get it twice. They also offer good sales and savings in their ads,
First, I will go through the add and circle everything that we will eat or need as a type of ingredient.

Then, I will go through all the coupons(some friends recommend a Sunday paper per member of the household). You can use more than one of the same coupon if you have the items for it.

Once I have my coupons cut and my items circled, I will make a menu off of these items.
Our menu is only based off of whats on sale or has a coupon. In most cases after the menu is complete, I look back through the ad or coupons and I am able to find a few more things that are needed for the meals.

When I started doing this, I lowered our grocery bill to $100-$160 every 2 weeks. Before, our normal bill was closer to $125 a week. I think this drop in amount is due to the fact that we don't buy unnecessary things now. When we went shopping before we would buy whatever and then we would have ingredients laying around that we wouldn't use or we would need something for dinner and not have it and have to run and get it. This way we only have what we need and have an "order" of when we will eat them.
Using this method, we have lowered our grocery cost, created a menu that just makes life easier, and has also helped us to eat healthier.

Freezer Meals:
We all know how dinner time can be. Whiny kids who are hunger, mom getting frustrated because her water isn't boiling fast enough, did I mention hungry kids? Freezer meals are a way to save you a bunch of time at dinner time.
Here are some different options:

Marinated Meat:
Buy meat such as chicken or pork in bulk. Separate it into dinner size portions and put it in a freezer safe container(or Ziploc). Add your own marinade or a bottled marinade(or BBQ sauce) and freeze it.
It will marinade as it thaws. Then just make a simple salad or veggie and boil in a bag rice and your set.

Bulking Burger:
Buy excess in ground beef, turkey, or pork. Cook it all at once and place it in meal-size portions, pre-seasoned for tacos, spaghetti, or sloppy Joe's and freeze. You can do this when you are already cooking the meat for your current dinner.

Double Dinners:
As you are making dinner for your family, make a double batch. Freeze the second batch. My favorite meals to do this with are lasagna, chili, and sloppy Joe's.

TV Trays
I have not tried this one yet, but it sounds do-able. Use your leftovers by making TV trays. After the meal put serving size portions into a pie pan or good freezable dish and cover well. This would work well for the hubby's lunch or again, a quick dinner.

Productive Pancakes:
Easy enough. Make the entire box of pancake mix(or triple your batch if yours are homemade). Freeze the rest. We love pancakes, but all the flapjack flipping can last a while when feeding 6. Great, quick alternative for breakfast.

Happy Saving and Happy Freezing.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Week 1 Autumn Study- Apples

Here was the lessons for week 1 of our Autumn Nature Study: Apples.
*Read Child's biography on Johnny Appleseed
*Apple Note booking page *See Nature Study:Autumn to the right*
*Venn Diagram, comparing apples
PRE-K- A is for Apple sheet *to the right in the created by me section*
Art project- Apple stamps or tree with finger print apples.
I also added a link to a Johnny Appleseed lapbook to the right if you'd like to go more in depth. Its a good history lesson.

We added an extra snack. We took apple slices and had chocolate sauce and peanut butter for dipping. Then had sprinkles, chocolate chips, and nuts for toppings.

L9 / M6

We were hoping to get to the orchard this week so we could use "not so common" apples, but instead we went with your basic grocery store golden and red delicious.
We did a lot of comparing this week. Learning how to tell the difference between two different or similar items. We used this as a lesson in adjectives as well. We found as many words as we could to describe the apples and their appearance.

Hope you had fun this week with apples. Now to move on our week 2 nature study: Trees. You can check back on my original post to find the lessons for this week.