Sunday, April 06, 2014

Wrap Up: Miss Rumphius

I love the story of Miss Rumphius, who sets out to make the world more beautiful by sowing lupine seeds throughout her hometown.

When I first read the book, I was reminded of the Texas bluebonnets that make the fields and highways throughout that great state more beautiful every spring.  In fact, the Texas bluebonnet is a type of wild lupine (lupinus texensis)! I decided that I'd save this book for spring when we could take a trip to Austin during bluebonnet season and row it with with a Texas twist and a visit to grandparents.

During our first week with Miss Rumphius, we started by finding the places that Miss Rumphius visited on our map and put the story disk on Maine on our USA map for an approximate location of her home "by the sea".

We took a little field trip to the Mrs Heather's Strawberry Farm to pick some berries and play on the many playthings there.

We also read a few go-along books to tie Miss Rumphius into our upcoming trip to Texas, the bluebonnet, and another lady who tried to make the world more beautiful, first lady Lady Bird Johnson.

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers is such a lovely book! They really enjoyed the Legend of the Bluebonnet, as well.  We talked a little bit about President Johnson and (generally) the office of the president, and Charlie was particularly interested in the go-along book pictured above.  It's very entertaining! Lots of fun facts about the different presidents. 

We painted bluebonnets using this tutorial.

And then we went to Austin! I'm kicking myself for not taking some pictures of the fields we passed between Houston and Austin.  They were covered in a lush mix of bluebonnets and indian paintbrush (my personal favorite wildflower).  It was a gorgeous drive!!  We got to my dad's on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning we hit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Perfect!  

the nature classroom for kids at the Wildflower Center was the biggest hit as far as the kids were concerned.  They could have played in there for hours!
Can you see the owl at the base of the plant?
The next day we just enjoyed some beautiful Austin weather at Zilker Park.

Dad happened to have a few bluebonnets growing in his front yard, so I decided it was OK to pick one to bring home for our brand new wildflower collection.  In just the past couple of weeks, we've found and identified seven species, and I have one more pressing to add soon.  I'm not sure we've landed on the best method of display (using our home laminator), but it's durable, and the kids seem to like it.

After we got home and unpacked and back-to-normal, we spent a few more days focusing on plants.  We watched the Magic School Bus episode on seeds and made this sunflower craft:

We planted sunflower seeds along the fence in the backyard, too! We're taking bets on whether or not they outgrow the fence by summer's end. 

We took Tuesday and went out to the Barataria Nature Preserve for a day of swamp hiking and nature study.  

elevated swamp trails 
quite the green forested picnic spot!
crawfish chimneys! These were EVERYWHERE.  Fascinating!
We also planted grass seed in plastic plant saucers to put in our Easter baskets.  Here's hoping they grow! I tried this two years ago and it flailed miserably, but Pinterest says it should work!!

There were a few other garden-themed books that we read during this row and enjoyed. I highly recommend The Curious Garden. This is probably the 3rd or 4th time we've checked it out of the library and everyone loves it.  The Gardener was a new one to us, recommended by a friend.  It's very sweet, and a Caldecott honor book, so it has lovely illustrations.  Miss Maple's Seeds was one I chose randomly off of the library shelf display and thought was adorable!  Kids enjoyed it, too.  

In other news, Friday was our  homeschool group's field day!  I was in charge of Charlie's group, so I didn't get many pictures, but they all had a lot of fun! Here are pictures showing off their ribbons. 

We start a new row with Mrs Katz and Tush this week, which will take us up to Easter.  This year is flying by!