I like this art project for a no-fuss introduction to single point perspective. (And believe me, we need no-fuss art projects here.)
Here’s how The Bean’s project played out:
We took a lovely field trip to Steele Orchard in Cullman yesterday with Buddy’s school, where the kids got a tour, and I got four big bags of delicious apples.
We learned that apples typically have five seeds, and that because most apples are hybrid varieties that are promulgated by grafting, the five seeds can produce up to five different kinds of apple trees, some of which may not even bear fruit. So, if you’re planning to start an apple orchard, starting from seed isn’t exactly your best strategy, but if you want to try it anyway, here is what we were told to do:
1. Get the seeds from ripe fruit, clean them, and soak them in water overnight.
2. For each seed, add some soil to a small plastic cup with a tight-sealing lid.
3. Poke a hole in the soil, put the apple seed in, and cover it with soil.
4. Water it lightly. Don’t make mud. Just get the soil a bit moist.
5. Put the lid on the cup and seal it.
6. Put the cup on a shelf in a refrigerator. Not in the door. Not in a corner. On a shelf. I’m just telling you what we were told. 😉 The temperature should be between 35 and 40 degrees. If it freezes, it’s over.
7. Take it out three months later.
8. Put it in a sunny windowsill, still sealed, until it sprouts.
9. Now, remove the lid. Water lightly about once a week. Don’t make mud!
10. When you have a nice little sprout with leaves, prepare a larger container, like a cut-off cardboard milk carton, by filling it with potting soil and making a hole in the soil a little deeper than the plastic cup. Take the sprout and soil out of the cup and put it into the carton, covering the top with soil.
11. Continue to grow your apple tree in the milk carton until it’s 3 inches tall and ready to plant outside. Choose an out-of-the-way sunny place where it won’t get mowed, trampled, or otherwise disturbed.
12. Keep it watered and wait a few years to see if your seed produced a fruit-bearing tree. If so, you’ll need to do some more research to learn how to care for a fruit-bearing tree. (Hint: Too much fruit will stress a tree and it can even die; you have to thin the fruit to about one every 8 inches; also, you have to prune it regularly to stimulate apple production.)
I think the kids really enjoyed our Japan study. Personally, my favorite topic was lunch. 🙂 We made bento lunches almost every day, and one day we had a neighbor give us a sushi-making lesson. The kids found the one place in the front yard with shade–it happened to be on the sidewalk–and picnicked there most days.
But enough about lunch. The kids watched Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire for a quick immersion in medieval Japanese history, and constructed a paper model of the Nagoya Castle as well as another castle.
We read books and maps to learn all kinds of facts about Japan, and one of the girls made this paper model of Mt. Fuji.
The kids also got into some Japanese art forms.
The kids had a blast with the culture case from the Birmingham Museum of Art. It was full of costumes, books, activities, and objects.
The kids did a lot more, all culminating in their Japan Fair, which will have to be a separate post. 🙂
We have the excellent fortune to live near the Red Mountain Community School, where Buddy attends kindergarten. Today, the school had a tree walk led by one of our favorite people, Henry Hughes, the education director at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The school invited neighborhood residents to tag along, and The Bean and I jumped on the chance. Henry often leads Fresh Air Family’s Hikes For Tikes on Saturday mornings at the gardens. When he leads the walk, it always turns into an amazing science class for us.
Today was another science day with friends. Yay! Today they brought an awesome microscope on loan from a family of medical professionals. We grownups played with the microscope while the kids did their bookish work, but we let them look at cool stuff too, like onion cells and HUMAN BLOOD. A few pictures:
About a month ago, I borrowed some cool neighborhood kids that are a couple of years older than The Bean to come over and hang out with us for a couple of weeks. We decided to call our time “Camp Unschool” and to focus on studying the history and culture of Japan.
Birmingham just happens to be a great place to be if you want to study Japan and can’t actually go to Japan. One of our sister cities is Hitachi, Japan; the Birmingham Botanical Gardens has one of the handful of authentic teahouses in North America in its excellent Japanese Garden; and the Birmingham Museum of Art has an excellent Japanese Collection as well as a free-for-members-to-check-out “culture case” full of items and activities for learning about Japan.
The kids decided that they would create activities and displays for a “Japan Fair” for the neighborhood. After reading about Japan, watching some documentaries, making bento lunches, building some models, making a bunch of origami, rolling some sushi, studying some maps, and taking the most epic field trip ever to the botanical gardens, they put on an amazing event. I took a bunch of pictures, so this will be a two-part post. Today, I’ll focus on our awesome field trip.
A little background: There is a public library at our botanical gardens. In the library, there is an archives room. In the archives room are all kinds of amazing treasures, many of which relate to Japan. I wouldn’t have known about the archives room at all if I hadn’t “liked” the botanical gardens’ Facebook page … but I’m a hopeless Facebook junkie, and one day in my feed there popped up a new photo album titled Archives Room at the Library. I got a little geeked. 😉 There may have been happy dancing.
Anyway, when we were doing our Japan study, I made an appointment to take The Bean and her friends to the archives room, letting the archivist know we were interested in items relating to Japan. (Click here for more info about the archives room and contact info for the archivist.) This turned out to be one of the best things we’ve done as homeschoolers. The archivist, Jason Kirby, gave us the royal treatment, pulling out all kinds of Japan-related items from shelves, drawers, and who-knows-what-hiding-places, putting them on display for us, and telling the kids about all the items. It was a custom class just for us!
Next we headed to the Japanese Garden, which we saw in a totally new way after our class in the archives room.