Category Archives: Spring

Good Spring Books for Young Children

I created a new page with our favorite books for spring and Easter on it, but thought I’d share the spring books as a post also, for those of you who read my blog via readers, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

What are your family’s favorite spring reads?

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Maureen

Labels: Literature, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Bird Nesting Materials

Bird Nesting Supplies 4Some birds have been returning to our area for the season and both Dora and I have been sad that we can’t feed them like we did last year. For those of you who haven’t been reading my blog for long, here is a short summary of what happened to our feeders last year: We woke up one morning to find our bird feeders completely destroyed. We were standing there, staring at the feeders in disbelief, shaking our heads sadly, trying to puzzle out why vandals would feel the need to so thoroughly destroy our feeders and worrying a bit about how strong the vandals must be, when Tertia came back from walking our dog and pointed to three bears headed our way. Once we thought that the bears had departed the area, we rushed out to clean up the bird feeder mess, realizing that the bears must have been attracted to it. Then the mother bear suddenly charged at Mr. Mo from behind our neighbor’s house while he was trying to dispose of the food and so forth and so on…. I then made the big mistake of calling the Department of Wildlife to report the bears and ended up getting chewed out for putting out bird feeders, given that I lived in “bear country” (which was news to us).  To top the whole thing off, a law was passed a couple of months later, which makes it illegal to feed bears, knowingly or otherwise,  in the State of Washington. This year, I briefly toyed with the idea of placing bird feeders in our backyard, but was a bit worried that the bears would just climb over our fence. Plus, I didn’t really want to attract birds to the area where our fruit trees, berry plants, and vegetable garden are.Bird Nesting Supplies 2Still, we have been really missing the company of all the birds who visited our yard last year. So, we finally decided to set out some nesting materials for the birds. We filled a suet cage with some scrap yarn and wool roving. Dora was very interested in this project and insisted on picking out and cutting the yarn herself, which is why the yarn is a bit brighter than I would have chosen. Maybe the birds don’t care, but I kind of felt that they might prefer colors that lent themselves more towards camouflaging a nest, but who am I to argue with a four-year-old? I did get to pick out the wool roving, however, so I chose a natural, undyed Alpaca wool for that. Thus far, the birds have not opted to take any of our offerings, but our tree is still a bit bare for the birds to be hanging out in. In fact, the only birds we’ve seen thus far, have been  robins and sparrows eating worms from the grass in our yard thus far.Bird Nesting Supplies 3-2What about you and your family? Do you set out feeders or nesting materials? If you set out feeders, do you have problems with bears or other unwanted guests? If you set out nesting materials, what types of materials have you found that the birds in your area like best?

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Maureen

Labels: Nature Study, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Edible Flower Lollipops

Edible Lollipops 4

This project was not one that I had planned for us to do this year, since it entails cooking candy at extremely high temperatures, but Dora started arguing with me that people could not eat flowers and I felt that I just had to show her that some flowers were not only edible, but yummy. We bought our flowers from our local food co-op. They were labeled as edible and were 100% organic. Obviously, one shouldn’t go picking flowers from any old garden and eating them and one should be 100% sure about which flowers are edible before eating them. Ironically, Tertia (age 18) came in while we were making these and started arguing with me about the edibility of flowers also, so clearly this is a gap in my kids’ education that I have failed to address.

Edible Lollipops 3

I used theses directions for making spring flower lollipops. Some notes that we came away with are:

  • The flowers kind of shrivel up when you put them in the candy, so you can use a mold that is smaller than your flowers (Tertia insisted this was a case of cruelty to flowers and it kind of did seem like the flowers were crying out in pain as they were scalded to death with the candy mixture Smile )
  • SprinkleBakes mentions using a candy mold, but I couldn’t find any that were safe for using with hard candy, which gets much hotter than soft candies, so we used the powdered sugar method
  • These lollipops are extremely sweet, so I recommend making them when you know you’ll have a lot of people over. They look lovely, so would add an added extra to your table and people wouldn’t feel the need to eat more than one.
  • Use real white sugar to make these (we used a pseudo-white sugar that we get from the food co-op, because it is fair trade and slightly healthier than regular white sugar – our sugar made the lollipops kind of yellow-tinted, such that they looked a bit jaundiced).

All, in all, this taught Dora (and Tertia!) that some flowers are edible, but I wouldn’t make these again, unless I was doing it for a party. It might have been the cherry candy flavoring that we used, but I just found these to be too cloyingly sweet for our family.

Edible Lollipops 5

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, In the Kitchen, Nature Study, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A Spring Felted Play Set and How to Needle Felt a Bunny

Needle felted Spring Play Set From Homeschool Mo 4I finished my first needle felted play set, which I posted about a couple of weeks ago. It definitely took some unexpected turns, as things didn’t form quite the way I had envisioned. Also, Dora grew really impatient for me to finish the set and rushed me on some of the finishing touches. Dora is very enchanted with the set, however, and has even taken to “needle felting” her own things with wool and a dull embroidery needle.Needle felted Spring Play Set From Homeschool Mo 1I am hardly an expert needle felter, I’ve only been feting for about one year now and have only finished a handful of projects, but I guess there just must not be that many needle felters out, because people are constantly asking me questions about needle felting. So I thought I would show you how I made one of the bunnies from this set. I really, really, really want to emphasize that I am not an expert and I have no formal training and so please take this tutorial with a grain of salt. I have kind of formulated my own approach to needle felting from reading other people’s tutorials, looking at other people’s work, and experimenting on my own.Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 1The first thing you need to do is gather your supplies. I am going to provide you with links to the Woolery, whose products I have been very pleased with, but whom I am in no way affiliated with. You will need some sort of protective surface to felt on, which protects your work surface (AKA “my lap” in my case) from getting stabbed by the needles and helps to protect your needles from getting broken. You will need wool roving in whatever color you want your bunnies to be. You will need needles, I use up to three needle gauges for my projects. I use a #36 at the start of my bigger projects. It felts quickly, but coarsely. I then clean things up with a #38. Finally, I may put the finishing touches on my projects with a #40. . You may or may not want a needle holder. If I am only using one needle, I just hold the needle in my bare hand, but I also have a tool that holds four needles, which is nice when I am trying to felt a large amount of wool. Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 2Take a bunch of wool roving, there is no right or wrong amount. Just know that the wool will felt down to about 1/2-ish the size of the amount of wool roving you start with. Separate the strands of roving and kind of criss-cross them in layers, so that they aren’t all facing the same way. Now start stabbing the wool. As you stab, be sure to lift your roving off of your work surface, or you will felt it to your work surface. Also, you will want to roll it and rotate it so that it gets felted evenly on all sides. Shape the wool as you go, by stabbing it in the direction you want it to go (I think of it as being like working with modeling clay). You want to aim for a shape that looks something like this body shape.Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 3This is the rough “outline”, so a general shape is all that is needed. It should be fairly firm, but not rock hard. Now, take a smaller amount of wool and start to shape the head of the bunny. Leave some strands of wool loose on the end where the head will attach to the body.Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 5Wrap those loose threads around the end of the body and felt the head to the body. You will now have a rough outline of the body and head that looks like this:Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 7Now take small bits of wool to make two hind and two front legs.Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 9Attach the legs to the bottom of the sides of the bunny’s body.Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 10Looking at your bunny from the bottom, it should look something like this:Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 12Now, felt a small round ball for the tail and attach it to the bunny’s rear end.Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 14Now make two ears shapes, leaving some of the end fibers loose to help attach them to the bunny’s head. Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 15If you want to line the ears with another color, this is the time to do it.Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 16Try not to use too much wool when lining the ears….Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 17…because it may show up on the back of the ears. In my case, since I was using pink to line white ears, I had to add more white to the back of the ears to hide the pink that came out the backside.Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 18Attach the ears to the head.Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 19You will now have a very roughly shaped bunny. Now is the time to add more wool, as needed, to fill out the shape and then clean things up with your finer tipped needles. Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 21And now you have a little bunny to play with! Note that these bunnies are meant for gentle play and should not be given to children who still put things in their mouth.
Needle Felting a Bunny From Homeschool Mo - 22Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Maureen

Labels: Needle Felting, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Decorating Beeswax Eggs

Easter Egg Candles 2Last week, Dora and I decided that we would decorate some beeswax eggs that I purchased last year. We used the Stockmar decorating wax, which I have blogged about before. I tried doing more research about this wax since we last used it, to see if there is a better way to work with it and the best that I can tell is that this wax is just too brittle to be modeled and shaped like modeling wax can be. It seems that it just meant to be cut into designs with knives, cookie cutters, toothpicks, etc. and then pressed on to a candle or other smooth object. I haven’t read anywhere that this is the only way the wax should be used and some blogs/vendors imply that the wax can be molded like modeling wax can be. I did, however, find two .pdfs from Stockmar, Experimenting with Decorating Wax 1 and Experimenting with Decorating Wax 2, and and in each of them, they demonstrate various ways of cutting the wax to use it. I believe that the people who make really elaborate candles, with 3-D designs and so forth, must actually be using modeling wax to decorate their candles (the 2nd .pdf from Stockmar even discusses using modeling wax instead of decorating wax). Please, if anyone knows otherwise, feel free to correct me! Since we went into this project thinking we would use the wax like we do modeling wax, Dora found the whole exercise to be very frustrating, so we just decorated two eggs and left two blank. I may try decorating some more candles with modeling wax in the future, so that she can model the designs she wants. If I do, I will post about it to let you all know if it works any better for us. Next time we go to use the decorating wax, I may just cut out geometric shapes ahead of time for her to adhere to her candle in any design she wants to make with shapes.Easter Egg Candles 1I honestly thought the eggs candles were pretty enough just as they were!

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in. Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Beeswax, Easter, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Mother’s Journal–Amazing Spider Webs, Big Rocks, and Pompom Bunnies

Big Rock Park 3In my life this week… I saw my rheumatologist and she put me on a malaria drug. It will take 1-2 months to see if it works. Meanwhile, I’m really ready for spring. I’m not normally so gung-ho about spring, but this year, despite our mild winter, I am just ready to be done with it. I want to get our garden going and see how well our new non-genetically modified seeds do. Did you know that a lot of vegetable seeds are actually genetically modified? So many of us grow our own vegetables to avoid things like genetically modified vegetables, yet we end up growing our very own genetically modified vegetables! If you are interested in guaranteeing that your seeds are not genetically modified, you can check out this safe seed list from the Council for Responsible Genetics.Big Rock Park 1Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Today Dora and I went to a new park in our area with our friends. That is where we saw the spider web that I have pictured at the top of this post. I know it looks almost fake, but I promise its real, I even have witnesses! The photo above is of the kids climbing a giant rock. You can tell that Dora is my 5th, because not only did I let her climb the rock when it was wet and slippery, but I stood back and took photos of her climbing the rock. We did not go to the park to geocache, but as we were walking I saw a spot and said to my friend, “I bet there’s a geocache there!” So I went to check and sure enough, there was a geocache there! It was really weird, because there were tons of great places to hide a geocache at this park and I never have found a cache that I wasn’t specifically looking for. Big Rock Park 2In our homeschool this week… I tired to focus more on poetry and songs that had movement in them and Dora really responded well to them. She has adapted very well to our colored gnome days-of-the-week system and knows what our order the days/colors of the week go in and what happens on each day/color. She also has shown a sudden interest in Elsa Beskow books. We attempted a few craft projects this week. One was to make a pompom bunny. I read about this craft in several of my craft books and they all used cardboard circles to make the pompoms. We found this method to be incredibly confusing and frustrating. In fact, our pompom fell apart. So instead, I tried the method that I have seen all over Pinterest, of wrapping the yarn around your hand (I used this video tutorial for directions on how to do this). Dora loved having the yarn wrapped around her and it only took about five minutes to make each pompom. I then made some little felt ears and tied them to the pompoms. I contemplated giving the bunny some eyes and a nose, but couldn’t come up with a design I liked, plus Dora was driving me crazy with wanting to play with the bunny NOW.

Making a Pompom Bunny 1Making a Pompom Bunny 2Making a Pompom Bunny 3Making a Pompom Bunny 4

How about you? How was your week? What have you been up to? Has spring come to your neighborhood?

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Nature Study, Spring, Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Getting Ready for Spring

Spring Nature Table 2Last week, we set up the spring nature/seasonal “table”, even though it’s not quite spring. It just seemed like the right time to do it, with St. Patrick’s Day and Easter both falling in the same month. Even the nature table seems to be bursting forth with abundance, compared to the winter nature table. One special purchase I made just for the nature table was for the green peridot, which I purchased from Our Planet’s Treasure. I really wanted a gem/mineral that was reasonably priced and seemed to me to represent spring. I cannot tell you how much Dora has played with those little gems (most of the pieces are smaller than beans). Most recently, we have taken to putting them into a little wooden “pot”, which we then put at the end of her wooden rainbow. We’ve been calling them “green gold”. She pretends that her farm animals eat the “green gold” and it then gives them various magical abilities.Our Backyard 1Today, Dora and I assembled two more raised beds for our vegetable garden. Mr. Mo has promised to fill them with soil, as that would be too much work for me, physically speaking. As you can see, our small urban (suburban???) yard is looking rather barren at the moment. I’ve put in as many raised beds as I can possibly fit, between the play system and the fact that half of our yard doesn’t get any sunlight, ever. That white thing in the one bed is Pumpkin Jack, who is decaying rapidly now. The rock wall still is looking rather ugly, as I continue to attempt to find a non-invasive plant species that will climb the wall and handle our many gray days in the fall-spring, but then not fry when the sun hits that wall full force in the summer (our neighbor next door who has shielded their wall with those giant evergreens is actually breaking the HOA rules as well as city rules, so that is not an option that we would pursue – not to mention, their evergreens are going to die one of these days, because I keep chopping off the roots when they grow into our yard, so that the some of the bushes are only anchored on one side – I feel mean to do that, but its either that or let their plant monstrosities suck up all of my plants’ nutrients). Our Backyard 2You can’t see them in that first photo, but right behind where I took that photo, we have a few dwarf fruit trees, which are looking sad and lonely right now, but they all have some tiny buds on them! We’re looking forward to getting a decent harvest of fresh peaches and apples from them this year (if we can attract some pollinators).Our Backyard 3The dirt bed in front of our rock wall is mostly used for Dora to plant lots and lots of flowers. As that is where rodents tend to come from, I don’t like to grow any food there, but I do have two blueberry bushes that I planted last fall. I thought the bushes had died, as we had a massive heat wave right after I planted them and they were completely shriveled up spikey, twiggy masses until just a couple of weeks ago. They still don’t look super impressive (to give you an idea of how small the bush is, those are tiny crocus plants in front of this bush). I imagine that we’ll be lucky just to get a cup of blueberries from both blueberry bushes this summer, but hopefully now that they have established a good root system, they’ll grow a lot bigger by next year.

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Maureen

Labels: Gardening, Nature Study, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Spring Gnomes

Spring GnomesI’ve completely finished making our monthly gnomes and am now moving on to new projects! For our spring monthly gnomes, I used a pattern from Making Peg Dolls, by Margaret Bloom.

Here is what the hat looks like from the back and above.

Spring Gnomes Back View

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Gnomes, Peg Dolls, Rhythm, Spring, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Wordless Wednesday–My Garden Agrees With Punxsutawney Phil, Spring Is On the Way!

Snow Drop

Cherry Blossom Buds

First Crocus

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Maureen

Labels: Gardening, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff