Sunday, February 23, 2014

Identification Contest Winner and Wintery Scenes....

Well, my intentions are always good but sometimes life gets a hold of me and I just can't keep up.  I apologize for the delay of announcing our Bird Identification Winner!  

We asked parents to have their children do a bit of research and try to identify two birds here in Connecticut.

Bird 1:
 This is Bird 1 also but the female:
 Bird 2:

We had lots of comments and are so proud of all the children who worked so hard to get the correct answers!  The birds are:

Bird #1 - Eastern Towhee
Bird #2 - Carolina Wren

Now to randomly select a winner who will get to pick any e-book off of the Little Acorn Learning website for free......

The winner is:

*Isaac*

"This is my answer:  Bird #1 is the Eastern Towhee.  Bird #2 is the House Wren.  My name is Isaac, and I am 8 years old. I love bird watching, and I used my bird book to identify these birds."

Congratulations!  Please email us at info (at) littleacornlearning.com to claim your prize!

Now for a few photos of the busy winter we've been having here (I hope you're not getting sick of them!): 








What's the weather like by you?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Make Snow Ice Cream!


Here is a fun activity to do with your little Valentines today.

I have been wanting to do this activity for years.  I always forget to try it and then yesterday a Facebook friend of mine posted that she was doing it with her children and I followed suit.  With all of this snow, we have to keep things exciting around here!


Luckily, my children already know I'm a little crazy so when I told them we were making Ice Cream out of fresh snow they just rolled their eyes at me as usual. 

It is very simple to make:

Gather 5-6 cups of snow in a big bowl and keep it outdoors until you are ready.  Obviously make sure the snow is very clean.  We have so much snow that we just dug off 4-5 inches and used clean snow from the middle.  

In a separate bowl, mix 1-2 tablespoons of pure vanilla, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1-2 cups of milk.  Stir the mixture together and then slowly add it to your snow bowl and mix it up until it gets the consistency of ice cream.  Go slow with the milk so you can add more if you need it.


Boom, that's it!  You have Vanilla Snow Ice Cream!


We added fresh fruit, white chocolate chips and sprinkles too.


Enjoy!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowpocalypse









The amount of snow here is insane.  And, this evening we are expecting another possible 10 inches!  By tomorrow morning it could total 20" of new snow (not to mention all of the old snow still on the ground).  In addition, this weekend we are expecting even MORE snow!

The kids and dogs are loving it and so far, we are too.  The temperatures are tolerable and it is fun hunkering down with a warm fire and good food.  We didn't have a snow day because the schools were already closed today, Friday and Monday for President's week which is good because we've already missed a lot of days that will need to be made up at the end of the year.

King Winter has definitely arrived in Connecticut!!!

What is the weather like where you live?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bird Identification Contest!

 This Red-Bellied Woodpecker came to our feeders today.  We've seen this type of bird other years but this was the first time this winter that he's made an appearance and it was pretty exciting.  

This is the Tufted Titmouse.  He is here often with all of his buddies.  A very pretty bird but common at our feeder so we don't get as excited when he visits us.  :)
 I must sound like an old lady but I absolutely LOVE sitting at my dining table every morning and watching the birds each day.  I get my coffee and my computer for writing and I make sure I can see right out of the window.  How lucky am I that I can intertwine my personal life and my work in this way?  

I recently put out new feed including meal worms (I know, yuck but a good source of protein for many of the birds during the cold months) and suet and now we are getting a variety of different birds which is really fun.
This is the female Downy Woodpecker.  They are common year-round in Connecticut.  The male looks the same but has a red spot on the back of his head and that is how I can tell the difference.  This is another common woodpecker that we have seen in years past but haven't yet this winter until we put out the suet.  This bird looks identical to the Hairy Woodpecker but it is much smaller (about 6").
Of course, we always love seeing the cardinals.  I see the males more frequently than the females so I love it when she comes for a visit.  I wonder if the males are the ones who tend to bring the food back to the nest more and that is why I see them more often?  I know their call now by heart and can hear when they are on the back deck before I even see them.  There is something about the coloring of the female cardinal that I find so subtly beautiful.


 I also see a ton of Blue Jays but they are very bossy and take over the feeders when they come around.  They are very pretty but I just don't like their attitude much ;) 
Here we have the male Dark-Eyed Junco.  Another very common bird at my feeders.  They migrate from Canada to Connecticut so we see them more in the winter time.  I'm not sure why they bother anymore as Connecticut has been just as cold as up north the last few winters.  I actually wonder if the migrating of birds will change after seeing our climate shift so much recently.  At one point, I had a dream of buying a winter cabin in Vermont to enjoy the snow and quad riding but it seems Connecticut is the new Vermont these days and we won't really have to budge.
I'm pretty sure this bird is a Song Sparrow.  I know it is a sparrow but can't seem to find a good picture match in my field guides and the Song Sparrow was as close as I could find.  

Here is another new bird and this one I have never seen at our feeders before.  It is the White-Throated Sparrow.  There are two variations of this type of sparrow and the one we have is the white-striped kind (not the tan-striped one).  Really beautiful and it was fun trying to discover what type of bird it was.
 Another frequent visitor is this guy, the Black-Capped Chickadee.  We see them ALL the time so again, while very pretty, the excitement gets lost after awhile. 

Years ago, we created this wonderful Bird Chart for our home.  We drew pictures of the most common birds that come to our feeder and put tally marks next to them whenever we see them.  I'm considering making a new chart soon as we've used this one QUITE a bit... but it is a fun activity and something you should try at home if you have the time.

 NOW I want to challenge you!  There are two more *brand new birds* that I saw at my feeder today that I've never seen before.  I've figured out what type of birds they are after doing some research but can you and your children?  

Take your time to look at both photos and either research in the library or online with your children to discover what type of birds they are.  Remember, we live in Connecticut.  

Parents - do your best to let the children do most of the research with your help and use this as a nature enrichment activity if possible...

Bird #1  

Bird #2

Once you think you know what type of birds they are, post in the comments section of this post with your guesses and your name.  On February 19th (one week from today), we will randomly choose a winner from the comments section and announce it on our blog.  It will not matter if you get the names right or not, we just want you to give it a good try so let the children decide what they think the right answers are.  

The winner will receive a FREE E-Book of their choice from Little Acorn Learning filled with even more wonderful activities to do with your children! 

Good luck and I hope you enjoy this project as a fun nature lesson to share with your class or family. 

xoxo

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

((Yarn Along)) and Giveaway Winner!

It's Wednesday, Yarn Along Day and we are SNOWED IN big time. Another school cancellation and more snow to come this weekend!! A great day to try to finish up some projects around the house if I can keep the girls busy enough.  
The never-ending baby sweater is coming along and really all I have to do now is block it and add the buttons. It took me so much longer than I expected (most of my projects do) as I just have very little time to sit and crochet so I sneak it in when I can.

As far as reading goes, I'm still not doing much heavy reading. I am, however, skimming through a lot of my favorite gardening books and looking ahead to Spring. Speaking of which, we just LOVE my friend Sharon Lovejoy's book Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots. Have you read it? I was lucky enough to do a wonderful interview with Sharon if you'd like to read it in 2010. She is such an inspiration to me. The girls and I took out our seeds to see what we have remaining from last year as we try to plan our garden. We will start many of our seeds inside this week too.

We have a bunch of fun things going on at Little Acorn Learning this week.  First off, let me announce our Waldorf Homeschool Handbook Giveaway Winner.......

And the winner is.....

**Emily Keniston**  

Emily said:


"The toughest part for me is learning all the specific approaches and methods Waldorf advocates, especially since I have four kids at four different levels. I need a resource that can break it down simply!"
Congratulations to you, Emily! I hope you enjoy your free copy of The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook. Please contact us at info (at) littleacornlearning.com with your mailing address.

In addition to all that FUN, we also have a beautiful photo contest going on over at the Little Acorn Learning Facebook Page! Our theme this month is Friendship and my goodness it really sparked a wonderful response. The entries are just breathtaking.






It's not too late to enter to win a free e-book of your choice from Little Acorn Learning. Just send no more than three photos to us at info (at) littleacornlearning.com with your name and written permission for Little Acorn Learning to use your photos in any current or future publications both online and in print.

We will put your photos into our February Photo Contest Album on our Facebook page and then ask your family and friends to vote for you by LIKING your photos. The winners will be announced on February 8th!!

Best of luck to all of you!
xoxo

Oh, P.S. - If you have a like-minded business or blog that you would like to advertise in our February Newsletter, it is due to be released this Friday.  We reach over 6000 Waldorf educators and parents and work hard to only place ads that are of value to the natural minded community we serve.  Speaking of which, I hope you GET our newsletter!  It's free and full of lessons, recipes, crafts, songs, festival dates, caregiver meditations and much more.  Sign up here:


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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Snow Candles for Candlemas

This is something that I've wanted to try for a long time but never got around to it.  I wanted to think of a fun way to celebrate Candlemas and considering there is still snow on the ground, I thought this year would be the right time to give it a try.  
My problem was that I had absolutely no supplies.  I wanted to use natural wax but my options were limited at Michael's Craft Store.  They did, however, have soy wax so I gave it a try.
After melting the wax, we found an area with deep snow and made indentations in the snow with a canning jar.
I also found some amazing wicks at the craft store.  I do have wicks from beeswax candles but these were more sturdy and I figured I'd struggle a lot less with them as they stood upright already.  We wrapped our wicks around paintbrushes to the correct length of our holes. 
 After the wax was fully melted on the stove, I went and poured in the wax.  
To add a little color, the girls added some watercolor paints.  It really didn't add to the coloring of the wax as they expected but it was pretty and worked.  

OK, so here is my blogger truth.  These candles did NOT work out like I wanted.  I figured the depth of the hole would give us nice big candles but some of the wax seeped underneath which ended up giving us very short candles!!!!
Instead of getting discouraged, we clipped our wicks and put our candles in the snow.  They looked so beautiful when we lit them, we soon realized that maybe we didn't make a mistake at all. 
Maybe they were just right.  

If you have snow (or sand) near you and decide to give this activity a try, please share a link to it here in our comments section. 

Happy Candlemas!