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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Bugs Series: Dragonflies (twig dragonfly tutorial)

During these warmer days, a sure way to get my sons outside is to grab a water bottle and magnifying glass and invite them on a bug hunt.  This summer I am extending the activity by incorporating it into some summer learning and providing links to learning websites, crafts, and stories about bugs.

This week we are studying dragonflies.  They seem so mysterious, with their bright colors and the way they hover over water.  When we see one, my boys throw out many questions and observations.

Below are some links for learning about dragonflies:

Download a dragonfly lapbook from Homeschool Share

Dragonfly coloring pages and here.

Beautiful photos of East Coast dragonflies - great to use in a matching game

Download a colorful sheet to learn the difference between a dragonfly and damselfly.

See lovely photos and learn more dragonfly facts from the San Diego Zoo.

The Dragonfly Story - this is a lovely story about a dragonfly who, born in the water, leaves the stream to fly away. As a side note, this story is a good way to help children deal with the loss of a loved one.

Feeling artsy? How to draw a dragonfly and a video of how to draw

Here is an interesting Video about dragonflies.

We read some wonderful books about dragonflies including:

The most colorful wings on the pond belong to the nimble dragonfly, but this delicate flying insect didn't begin life in the air. The secrets of metamorphosis are unfurled in this story of the life of a familiar backyard creature.

A dragonfly lays her clutch of eggs and the life cycle of dragonflies has begun. Watch as the little nymphs change over time into beautiful adults who can move through the air like an acrobat.

This was one of our favorites!  Eliza and her friends learn all about dragonflies when they join Aun Doris on trips to a nearby pond. The science about dragonflies is perfectly integrated into a story in which the remarkable metamorphosis of a dragonfly from a mucky nymph (Eeeewww, says Eliza) to a beautiful winged creature (Magnificent! says Aunt Doris) is a metaphor for the magic of how Eliza, too, grows up.

We also had fun making twig dragonflies:

When they were all dry, we added them to our summer nature table:

Next, we are studying ladybugs...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Simple Touch

Have you ever had one of those profound moments that might be mundane for others, but it stays with you all day and into the evening?  Well, I had one today.

This afternoon at work, -I am a ranger at Independence National Historical Park- I was rather bored waiting for tours to enter Independence Hall when to my surprise a colleague opened the back door and a blind elderly couple cautiously stepped in.  They were part of a tour that would be entering any minute through the front door and were brought over early so they could get in with ease.   I quickly walked down the hallway to guide them toward the first stop on the tour. As I offered my arm, the man took it and held my hand while his wife held his arm and they walked with me as I described the building on our way to the first stop on the tour.  As the tour progressed, I led them to another room, and at the conclusion, I led them to the exit door and on toward their destination on Walnut Street. 

Most visitors avoided the couple, not wanting to bump into them, but also not offering assistance. Yet each time I offered, the gentleman took my hand, small and fragile compared to his, and I was moved by the ease with which he did so and the fact that he willingly depended on that simple touch to guide him. Quite different from the all-too-prevalent tendency to avoid touching people we do not know.

The whole experience reminded me how powerful simple touch can be.  Surely we have all craved it and been nourished by it at some point.  Although I am not a particularly touchy-feely person, some of my fondest memories involve simple touch Such as my father holding my hand in church; his rugged hands spoke of strength and hard labor while his gentleness spoke of tender love for his child.  Yet I sometimes take those high-five, quick touch moments for granted in my daily life.  It is heartbreaking to think of those who go day by day with no simple touch to sooth them at all. 

With that in mind, when I am greeted with touch whether it be my child's embrace, my husband's caress, or simply a visitor at work shaking my had for a job well done, I will be aware of the value of the meaningful and essential sense of touch.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Festive Paper Star Lantern Tutorial

With Independence Day just around the corner, our home is decorated with red, white and blue and multiple flags, small and large fly outside.  As night comes on the colors fade to grey so to add to the evening festive feel, I made some red, white and blue paper star lanterns, known well in Waldorf circles. By the way, these work great with tea light citronella candles for an outdoor celebration.

To begin, use a plate to trace a circle on a piece of construction or scrapbook paper then cut it out.

Fold the circle in half then again in quarters then again in eighths.

Use a ruler to draw and cut lines from segment to segment. (There should be 8 straight edges when you are done.)

Refold into eights and then once more to make sixteenths.

Open the circle and turn it over so the inside of the lantern is facing you and fold in at every 4th crease to make a square. 

Open the folds back out, rotate the paper 45 degrees and repeat this stage so that your two squares create an eight pointed star shape when opened back out. 

There are 8 kite shapes inside the circle.

Fold 2 edges of the kite in then turn the paper over and fold a triangle down with the ends at the creases.  Do this at each kite.


 The next several folds will fold against each other like an accordion. The center fold line of your kite shapes will fold inwards and the edges, outwards.

This is what you should have after you do this 8 times.


Then all you have to do is push the inside flat with your fingers and put in a candle.

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