Poetic Monday

We generally read or memorize one poem each week and spend a few moments learning about the poet’s life. I try to place each poet in time and location, along with any interesting information that makes them memorable. I’m hoping to make poetry a semi-regular posting here.

Author: Luo Binwang c. 640 – 684 Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty.

Luo Binwang was said to be able to recite poetry at the age of six and this poem, Ode to the Goose, is said to have been written when he was just seven years old. Luo Binwang is named as one of the four Heroes of Early Tang under Emperor Goazong. The Tang Dynasty was a golden age for Chinese poetry which was considered the highest form of literature.

Ode to the Goose

Goose, goose, goose
You bend your neck toward the sky and sing
Your white feathers float on the emerald water
Your red feet push the clear waves

Goose goose goose
Bend neck toward sky sing
White feather float green water
Red food push clear wave

The first version above is the literary English translation of our poem and the version we learned. The second version (below the first) is what might be a more literal English translation of the poem from the ancient Chinese. Translating Character based languages is tricky so depending on the translator may be interpreted differently so I take this information with a grain of salt.


Week 5 in Review

We had a good week over all. I’m a bit short on time today so I’ll just make some observations about the week and end with some photos of our two homeschool field trips.

Here we are in week five and I’m still adding in subjects for EJ, working up to our full plan. We’ve been doing math, spelling, printing, science, and of course lots of reading. This week EJ added ancient history back into the mix and I quickly realized that I had made a bad decision in scheduling history and science on the same day. So some tweaking of our schedule is in order. I also decided that with all of the changes I keep making to the master schedule it’s just not worth keeping so I’m going back to my “wing and a prayer” method of having a general outline but no specific plan for each day. Okay, so that sounds like I’m making it up as I go along, I’m really not because most of our lessons are open and go (meaning little prep work) so it’s just a matter of getting them done and keeping track of what we did.

JD is doing fabulous and learning so much. He loves to show off his new-found knowledge at odd times throughout the day. This week in math he learned about evens and odds and routinely points out patterns of even and odd numbers as he comes across them. I love how he applies what he learns to his world.

Our BFSU science lesson this week was about maps. Learning what information is included in maps, how to read a map, and how to draw maps of our own. We had a chance to use our map reading skills during our field trip to Mt. Tom reservation.

We ended the week with two field trips with our local homeschool group. The first was a visit to a local fruit orchard that installs a self-guided sculpture trail each Autumn. The second was a trip led by an educator with the Massachusetts DCR at Mt. Tom state reservation. The focus was on finding and observing life on land (and follows up our previous field trip; life in the water, from last month).

Art in the Orchard

This was a lot of fun and we discovered a new place to get organic apples, blueberries, raspberries, and pears, practically around the corner from us! I really enjoyed taking pics of all the sculptures and reading about the local artists that created them. I have pictures of most of them on my Flickr page if you want to see more. The kids had a great time following the trail of sculptures. While I don’t think they learned much about art, they did get some good exposure. Afterwards they enjoyed ‘playing’ with the free range chickens. They even named several of them – my favorite was Hen-ry. Get it?


Portal to another Dimension


The chickens were a highlight


Zap! My favorite sculpture

Mt. Tom:  Finding Nature on Land

This group of kids are so enthusiastic! Usually they run through the trails trying to see what’s around the next corner. This time they were forced to slow down and explore a couple of small areas to see what they could find. They fully explored decomposing logs and found some unidentified buggies, several hiding salamanders, and a colony of ants with a rather large queen. We’ve had so much wet weather it was easy to spot quite a variety of mushrooms and fungi. We even looked in trees for folded leaves that were surely the work of one bug or another.


Mt. Tom

This photo was actually taken at the orchard the day before, but you can see Mt. Tom off in the distance.


Checking to see what is under a log

Gelly Shroom

I call this a Gelly Shroom because it felt like the gel inserts for your shoes.


Gathered around chewing on Black Birch branches.

Unknown fungi

Orange Fungi of some sort

As always, thanks for reading.

More Micro Photography

I try to mostly stick to homeschool related postings, but it’s hard. Sometimes the line blurs. Today I saw something so fabulous my mind keeps coming back to it and so, I have to share here. Plus, it is educational after all, even if it’s not about homeschooling.

From Boston.com –  The Big Picture. Nikon Small World Photomicrography

Can you believe these are Mosquito Larvae! I just came in from mucking around in a local conservation area and I can confirm there is nothing beautiful about mosquitos when they are bitting every 5 seconds. But holy cow those babies are gorgeous!

And this. Graphite-bearing granulite. So perfectly abstract. I would hang this on my wall. Actually the colors would even work in our living room.

See many, many more at the Nikon Smallworld photo gallery. I think I’m going to be staring at these for a while.

Creative, Problem Solving Animals

It wasn’t all that long ago, we believed humans were the only animal species to use tools. Jane Goodall’s study of chimpanzee societies in the 1970’s proved that primates use tools, problem solve, and engage in many other “human” traits. Scientists have since taken more time to observe animals in their habitats and found that tool use is hardly limited to primates. This morning I read an article about a newly released video that shows a fish using a rock to open up a mollusk shell by throwing the shell against the rock repeatedly. Amazing!

Show this video to your children. I hope they are as amazed as my children and I were. For me, it’s humbling to remember that no matter how different humans seem from other animals, we are surprisingly similar in some really basic but perhaps unexpected ways.

Week 3: Vacation in Pictures

What an interesting week. This was our first family vacation in 5 years. We returned to Boston where I spent nearly 20 years but haven’t visited in more than eight. Although I was born and raised in New Hampshire, I tend to think of Boston as the place I grew up. In a way it really felt like coming home.

Going on vacation when everyone else is in school is a wonderful perk of homeschooling. Although some places we visited were still pretty crowded – the New England Aquarium in particular, most were very quiet. It was so nice to see the kids exploring the Museum of Science without having to worry that another child was waiting for a chance, they could take their time. One disadvantage to visiting in the beginning of the quiet season we discovered was that in some cases the most popular exhibits were closed for routine maintenance. The Planetarium was closed, the famous electricity demonstration was modified because the giant Van Der Graaff generators were being cleaned. All in all, as a family that avoids crowds when possible, the upsides far outweighed any downside!

Home Away

Our lodgings for the week

Mathematica Room

Planetary Gravitation

Robot programing


Cownose Rays



Myrtle the Turtle coming up for air.

Myrtle grabs some air



Kid Power!



EJ and the plesiosaur


Hancock viewed from the Pru

Thanks for peeking!

Week 2 Wrap-Up: What Worked and What Didn’t

It’s Saturday already so I suppose that means we made it though another week. I don’t want to write a book again so I will mix it up and just comment on what went well this week and what went not so well.


Science! What? The topic we live for? I do love our science curriculum. I’m having trouble keeping us together and on track. The kids have a tendency to become wild whenever we ‘sit down’ to do science. I’m trying to analyze what is going wrong because lately it’s been nothing but frustration. I’m constantly saying things such as: Come back. Didn’t you just get water before we started? Sit on your bottom not your head. And so much, much more. It is wearing me out to the point that I. don’t. want. to. do. science. Which would be a shame because we all do enjoy it when it goes well.


EJ continues to rock in math. This week he learned how to use drawing tools; T-square, and 30-60 triangle and was a natural at it. He doesn’t spend much time drawing on his own, but I think something more technical, like the geometric shapes he worked on this week might be more up his alley.

JD is also rockin’ in math. I just started him on Right Start Level A late last week. He’s getting the concept that 5 is special and he learned the days of the week this week. I’m finding that much more than EJ, he needs a cheerleader. Too bad I’m a lousy cheerleader. I’m trying though.

2011-Sep-16_010 We had a fun afternoon with our homeschool group on Friday learning about critters that live in the water. It was pretty informal and mostly the kids all had a great time mucking about and collecting tiny fish, tadpoles, and a couple of itty bitty critters. I love seeing them all work together!

Hoping to find aquatic life

“A Vacation spot out of season always has a very special magic.” Max Von Sydow

This coming week we will be in Boston for a fun family vacation. It will be the first time Mr. Hamp and I have been back since we moved from the area eight years ago. It feels just a bit decadent taking vacation when all of the kids peers will be in school. Even though it’s just Boston, I think it will feel like a vacation out of season.

Have a terrific week!

Wordless Wednesday: School Grrrr!

(Oops, I’m a day late)

EJ, not so subtly telling me “NO MORE PICTURES MOM!”

Spelling Grrrr

Handwriting grrrr