Handwriting, Ladybugs, and Teeth

Yes, a weird title for a post. It is hard to capture a full day into a post title when our days seem to go all over the place!

This morning, after playing around and eating breakfast, we started with handwriting practice. I recently bought the Handwriting Without Tears booklet for M, as she wants further work on her lowercase letters, and could just use some more formal practice to ease her writing skills. This has been the best writing booklet we’ve purchased so far. I really love their technique, and I didn’t even need to purchase the accompanying parent/teacher handbook. C could really use this instruction, as she tends to still “draw” her letters instead of writing them, but I am going to wait until she is a little older before purchasing her own copy. Though M specifically wants to improve on her lowercase letters, we started at the beginning of the book (it starts with frog jumping uppercase letters, like F, E, P, etc.). I was worried she would get bored, but she did 4 pages easily without complaint. C got out one of her workbooks to do some letter writing practice as well.

(top, M; bottom, C)

(top, M; bottom, C)

Next the girls wanted to do a ladybug craft. We are raising ladybugs this year (we did butterflies last spring), and have had our larvae for over a week now.  Our larvae have grown so much! Even the toddler fights for a view whenever we’re checking them out. The girls have started journal books and have been learning about the four stages of their life cycle. I found a great free resource from the montessoriprintshop.com; it includes life cycle cards, blank life cycle cards and worksheets. We also got three great library books: Ladybugs by Gail Gibbons; A Ladybug’s Life by John Himmelman; and Are You A Ladybug? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries.

ladybug activities

Anyways, back to the craft. The girls wanted a ladybug painting craft, but we didn’t have any black paint (and I didn’t feel like mixing all our colors to try to get black). So we made up our own craft. Using paper plates, red paint, black construction paper, a Sharpie, buttons, hot glue, and pipe cleaners we created our own ladybugs. We had first looked at some of the different ladybug species, but everyone ended up creating their own species. The toddler even did all her own painting and sticking on the dots! All three ladybugs are hanging in our kitchen, and they look mighty cute. I now wish that I had made one myself too.

TheLipperLoppyLIfe: Ladybug Craft

TheLipperLoppyLife: Ladybug Craft

While the ladybug craft was drying and I was making lunch, C drew a robot and M punched out more holes to create fingerprint-like drawings.

(left, C, "robot"; right, M, "dot art")

(left, C, “robot”; right, M, “dot art”)

Lunch was fantastical, as we left the Pandora station playing and danced in our chairs while eating (mostly the toddler and I danced). All of us continued the dancing into the living room and had a quick jam session (to Franti’s Say Hey) before it was time for the toddler’s nap. After I nursed the toddler down, I read books to M and C: two ladybug books, another library book, and two chapters from our current chapter book, Charlotte’s Web. Then M had speech class, and both M and C had dental appointments. M’s bottom teeth are just on the verge of starting to become loose, and she has 2.75 of her 6-year molars in! Milestones! Of course when we arrived back home, playing dentist was of high interest. M and C then played outside while I made dinner with the toddler on my back (who quickly fell asleep — late bedtime for her tonight, uh-oh!). Dinner was delish: roasted yam and spinach frittata, maple strawberry scones, and a grapefruit-strawberry smoothie. (Ok, the smoothie was a little too tart.) After dinner Dada played outside with the girls while the dog and I went for a neighborhood jog. Then M and C did a quick speech practice on the Ipad (using the Articulation Station app) before bed.

Wow! I am physically and mentally exhausted!


All Things Bats

The second program this month from the local nature center was about Bats. I actually was rather unimpressed with this particular program, that had mostly to do with the leader (two leaders take turns each month, and this was our first time attending a program run by this particular leader). We actually learned more about bats on our drive to the nature center, when we listened to the audio that accompanied one of our library books. C was really excited on the drive, and kept exclaiming something “new” about bats as she listened. Auditory learner, perhaps? I think I will be checking out more audio books for her!

We still had a lot of fun learning about bats. We spent the whole day doing different batty activities, and by dinnertime, the girls had so much knowledge to share with Dada. Some of the batty facts that we learned included:

  • Bats live all around the world (except the poles).
  • A bat’s wing is composed of its arm and hand, with long fingers supporting the skin of the wing.
  • Bat’s toes are hook-shaped to easily hang upside down.
  • Bats are nocturnal.
  • Different types of bats eat different things; most species eat insects, but some eat fruit, fish, frogs, even blood.
  • Some bats use echolocation to navigate in the dark night. The bat makes a shout (that is too high for humans to hear) and listen to its echo to create a sound picture.
  • Bats sleep in a roost, which can be a building, cave, or tree.
  • Baby bats can’t fly. They stay in the roost huddled together or sometimes the Mama carries the baby when hunting.
  • Baby bats drink mama’s milk; to nurse, they cling to their Mama upside-down, while the Mama wraps her wings around the baby.
  • A Mama gives birth by hanging right-side-up by her thumbs, catching the baby with her tail, and then flipping back upside-down.
  • Bats are mammals, and they are the only flying mammals.

We first read (and listened to the accompanying audio cd) Bat Loves the Night. This was entertaining and highly educational. We also read Bats by Gail Gibbons (I am a fan of Gail Gibbons nature books!).

books bats

The girls were provided with some worksheets that they could do at their choosing. The worksheets included writing practice, a coloring page, connect-the-dots, a wordsearch puzzle, and a fold-a-bat craft. We looked at how the bone structure varies between a bat, bird and a human, and colored in the corresponding bones on this resource. We watched a few online videos (on Nature.com and Discovery.com). We even watched an echolocation music video (it was a wonderful way to practice saying that long word). We made bat masks.

130218 IMG_4317

The girls wanted to put on a bat puppet show for Dada that night. So I found a fingerplay song to use and we created puppets for the show. The girls used their big bat masks (above) to introduce the show, and then together we sang, “5 little bats went flying one night,…” with our Mama and baby bat puppets. (We did discuss how a Mama bat usually just has one baby, not five.) It was a little hard rehearsing the puppet show with the toddler climbing all over us (and stealing puppets) so we had to have a dress rehearsal when Dada was home to distract the toddler before the big show. It was fun!

The Bat Puppet Show

The Bat Puppet Show

Learning About Nocturnal Animals

A few weeks ago we attended a local nature storytime about owls and other nocturnal animals. They read Little Owl’s Night. As a special treat, they had a conservation educator bring in a hawk and a horned owl for a live presentation! Obviously, the hawk isn’t a nocturnal animal, but it was a great way to compare features between nocturnal and diurnal birds. Both birds were gorgeous, and it was so cool to be so close to them; a much more personal experience than the aviary or the zoo. At the end, we went outside to see the hawk fly.

Bubo the Horned Owl

Bubo the Horned Owl

flying hawk

flying hawk

We’ve studied Barn Owls last spring (reading books, dissecting owl pellets, and watching Barn Owl web cams) so the girls were already familiar with owls and nocturnal behavior. But we wanted to learn more about nocturnal animals. We got some great books from the library to read, including: Creatures of the Night, While the World is Sleeping, Where are the Night Animals?, and Whoo Goes There?.

books nocturnal animals

We made a T chart of nocturnal and diurnal animals (and one that is both, elephants!) and we made a collage of nocturnal animals. We put both of these projects in our new Animal Binder (so we can look back on things we’ve studied). We discussed advantages and adaptations for night-living (following this guide) and added the information to our Animal Binder as well.

above, Nocturnal Collage; below, Diurnal/Nocturnal T Chart

C colored some pictures of nocturnal animals while M worked on a word search puzzle that I made from an online puzzle generator. Online, we watched some BBC Nature clips, a video slideshow, and a puppet music video and played a few online games, finding hidden nocturnal animals and identifying animal sounds. One night before bedtime, we turned off the lights in the living room and played hide and seek in the dark, experiencing what it might be like to be an owl hunting a mouse and a mouse trying to hide. This was super fun, and no one made any major bumps.

As usual, there is always so much information available, so we still have plenty more to explore and learn about in the future. The girls were especially excited about owls again, so we have ordered some more owl pellets to dissect and have started watching the Barn Owl web cams again. I think we will always be checking in on those Barn Owls in Jan/Feb (when they lay eggs).  Hooray for web cams and YouTube videos!

Amur Leopard, Acids and Bases, and Art

Today started out like every other morning…when the kids wake up they climb out of bed and start playing in the playroom. Sometime after the toddler wakes, I struggle to get myself out of bed and make breakfast. I am so looking forward to when the toddler sleeps the night through, so I can actually wake up before the kids. But right now, as it has been for six years, I desperately try to cling to sleep each morning. We have, however, reached a new milestone in this household: as M is one month shy of turning six, she is staying in her bed all-night-long!  No more climbing into the family bed for her, hooray!

I was just starting to get everyone ready for running errands this morning (we have some birthday presents to buy and valentines to mail) when I got a text from a friend seeing if we would be interested in going to the zoo. Today was a relatively good air day, so I had planned to take advantage and get outside, and the zoo just seemed sooo much more fun than running errands. It was just what I (and the girls) needed. We have been sticking around home (except for classes and errands) way too much in the last few months. And it was so good to chat with a dear friend that I never get to see enough of.

At the zoo, we were blessed to see a training session for the Amur Leopard, so cool! We were warned that the leopard might not participate at all, because, being a cat and all, the leopard does only what it wants to do. My smart friend likened that to children; if only most parents realized this instead of trying to force children to do things! The leopard did do some training exercises, opening his mouth for dental checks, lifting paws for health checks, rolling on the floor (for fun), all for the yummy meatball treats (and not your normal meatball; these included all the body parts, intestines, bones, etc just as a leopard would eat in the wild). It was definitely the highlight of our short zoo trek. (Well, I think the toddler’s highlight was clucking at the chickens walking around the zoo grounds.)

Amur Tiger training

Amur Tiger training

Today we also did some quick science play, dropping colored vinegar in bowls of baking soda. I talked a lot about the double displacement reaction, but really, the girls were just focused on watching the bubbles and trying to mix the colors. Great, great fun! Some say it occupies their kids for hours, but my eldest lasted about 15 minutes, and C probably 30 minutes.

Vinegar-Baking Soda Fun

Vinegar-Baking Soda Fun

One of the reasons my eldest didn’t spend much time on the experiment is because she was excited to get back to a project she had started. She had been asking me if we could buy another sticker dolly book, but since I said we could not right now, she decided to make her own sticker book. We stapled a book together, and she started drawing in pictures (she even is making 3 characters, modeled after the sicker dolly books, though her characters are her and her sisters). Oh my goodness, I just realized that she put our dog in her book too. My heart! C started working on hers too, drawing a butterfly. When they are done drawing in pictures, they will then add stickers that M has already cut out in bowls for them. (Will I not have to buy any more of these books?)

Homemade Sticker Books

Homemade Sticker Books

It was a great day, topped off with fresh-from-the-oven Banana Honey Oatmeal Bread. Mmmmm!

Our Natural Learning Day…Yesterday


I tried my best to get this post written yesterday, as it is about yesterday, but…we all know blogging is not high on the priority list!

So, yesterday was full of natural learning exploration. The day had a lazy start; the toddler has had nights recently with an hour of nursing, tossing, kicking and hitting me, and nursing, so I’ve been waking up extra tired, and yesterday was no exception. I almost feel like she’s a newborn with my recent lack of sleep! We needed to go to the grocery store that day, so I asked the girls if they wanted to go in the morning or after speech class, and they chose to go after speech, because they wanted to keep playing that morning. Fine by me, as I got to stay in my pj’s longer and take my time.

We made waffles and spinach-fruit smoothies for breakfast. I love when we can start the day with a filling yummy breakfast! The girls spent most of the morning in free play, some of what I saw was: making a “collection” of animals (according to M, a collection is something that you look at and keep), cushion jumping in the living room,  and doll house play.

The "Animal Collection"

The “Animal Collection”

I will spare you a picture of what my couch looked like when the cushions were removed! Time to vacuum!

I will spare you a picture of what my couch looked like when the cushions were removed! Time to vacuum!

M initiated reading practice. She picked out one of her reading books (I will write a post about these reading books another time) and read some of the book with me. She is getting so excited about her reading ability! C requested that we finish the last country in their culture sticker book (Nigeria) so we did that next.

We ate a yummy lunch of sandwiches, veggies, and fruit, and then had quiet time (toddler nap time). M and C chose to watch a Jeff Corwin animal show. The girls wanted an episode on Western Africa (since we just talked about Nigeria), but instead we found an episode on Nepal. I was only able to watch the end of the show (as I had been nursing the toddler to sleep) so I only caught a bit about elephant midwives (birth and babies is a popular topic in this household, both for the girls and me).

Then we brought a little springtime inside with flower paper roll painting. M discovered that you need to press down on the petal flaps to get a good print. M also decided to add stems and leaves with her fingers, and eventually we got out a few brushes to paint the centers of the flowers. C quickly turned the activity into a tactile one and just spread the paint all over with her hands. How great that must have felt!

Flower Paper Roll Painting

Flower Paper Roll Painting

Then we cleaned up quickly and went to speech. We have both a new graduate student clinician (we get a new one every semester) and a new faculty supervisor, who is the school’s expert on Apraxia. She is trained in Prompt Therapy (only SLP in Utah with Prompt training) and I’m just so excited to finally have her in charge of M’s therapy (previously she had been consulting our supervisor). The classes just started this week, and they are still just collecting language samples and figuring out what they want to target.

After speech we all went to the grocery store, scoring the only 3-child-cart. I had a huge list to get through, so I bribed the kids with a cookie from the bakery. But it was a successful trip (seriously, its the little things, right?)

When we got home, the girls had more free play, including: looking at a Native American book (M noticed that they carried baskets on their heads); art; more reading practice for M (she found CVC words in a chapter book that she could read); looking at more books; and of course, dance time in the living room.

A winter storm was beginning, so I cooked up leftover chili from the freezer and cheddar biscuits for dinner. Dad left work too late and got stuck in the storm (his front-wheel drive work truck can not make it up into our neighborhood on the bench of the mountain in snowy weather). He parked his truck pretty far away (about 20 minute walk in the snow), so we drove out to pick him up. He did not want us to get him, worrying about a car sliding into us, but it was a short drive and it meant we would all be home sooner to eat our yummy dinner.
After dinner we played board games, card games, and puzzles before bedtime. I was able to keep up with laundry and dishes, and we all went to bed with every room in the home clean (well except the office which is a disaster right now with moving boxes). The girls have been very helpful lately with keeping things picked up…I think we are finally running a smooth household routine!

Today in Pictures

7:30 am: Morning TV

8:30 am: Breakfast of Spinach fruit smoothie, eggs and toast.


9:30 am: Gymnastics (I was too busy chasing the toddler to remember to take a photo.)
10:30 am: Fabric store hell. At least M could read the name of the store, and we did survive the long search for fabric and long wait to cut said fabric.


12:30 pm: Bleeding Baby. 😦 It’s amazing how much blood comes from a bit lip! And how scary it is for a parent to see.


1:00 pm: More math play.




*On the drive to speech, we were listening to an Aladdin song. I explained that Aladdin and Jasmine fall in love (the girls haven’t seen this movie yet). M mentions, again, how she married Jasmine and Aladdin. C tells M, “Mama says that Aladdin and Jasmine got inside love!”

2:00 pm: Speech class for M.


3:30 pm: Neighborhood walk to find bird nests.



*M says, “Mama, there are two different kinds of pine cones!” And C says, “There are so many different trees in our neighborhood!”

4:30 pm: I’m crying on the couch and M is crying in her bedroom. Immediately when we got to our driveway after our pleasant walk, M got angry and wouldn’t come inside. We have family safety rules about front yard play, and now was not an option. And frankly, I was hurt that she would treat me this way after our nice nest-finding walk that she has been begging me to do this week. Her outburst only happened because she was tired. But boy, parenting can be so tough! I’m glad that I at least kept my cool, but I feel so drained at the moment, and I still have two more days before Dada is back home.


(I actually am feeling much better now, and I’m sure a delish comfort-food dinner will help in my restoration as well. And maybe a shower too!)

Where in the World is Grandma: Newfoundland and Labrador

To continue with our study of Grandma’s travels, we added Newfoundland and Labrador to our book. Grandma had given us a newsletter she made of her experience in this Canadian province. We really just did a quick look into Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • We used worksheets from kidzone.ws to color maps of Newfoundland, the Newfoundland provincial flag, and the provincial bird and plant (puffin and the pitcher plant).
  • We read a few books about Newfoundland. Ode to Newfoundland is a lyrical story with brilliant pictures and information. The Mummer’s Song shows the Newfoundland Christmas custom of mummering. I found other great Newfoundland books online, but our local library didn’t carry them; if you’re interested, look into The Killick: A Newfoundland StoryThe Hangashore, and Moocher in the Lun.
  • We read a book about the pitcher plant and other carnivorous plants. The girls were very interested in the idea of meat-eating plants. I’m planning on getting this Carnivorous Creations Kit sometime in the next year or so for more in-depth exploration.
  • We read a lot of books about puffins. PuffinsA Puffin’s Year, and Puffling, were factual stories/informational books, and There Once Was a Puffin and Nothing Like a Puffin were silly entertaining books.
  • And we made puffin beak masks. I couldn’t easily find a puffin craft on the internet, so I basically made this one up!

    Paper Plate Puffin Beak Instructions:

    1. Cut a paper plate in half, and then quarters. Fold two quarters in half. Mark lines on the quarters to color them orange, yellow, and blue. One folded quarter will be the top of the beak, another folded quarter will be the bottom (one paper plate makes two beaks).
    2. Attach the left top beak to the left bottom beak with a paper fastener. Do the same to the other side.
    3. Attach string, elastic, etc to each side of the top beak. (After doing the first one, I realized it’s easier to attach the elastic before attaching the brad fasteners.)
    4. Put it on and pretend you’re a puffin!

Enjoying Our Freedoms

When I look back at our busy day, the theme that comes to mind is “enjoying our freedoms”. We are blessed to have a voting right in this country, to be able to live our lives as we choose to, seeking the sun and exploring our world together in our homeschooling journey. And it was a very joyful, sunshiny day.

Today started out with going to the polls to vote, all three kids in tow. There was no line, and empty voting machines too. C (the middle child who is constantly searching for stimulation) still managed to walk away from me, without my notice, while I was voting. But in her defense, she had walked over to the big gymnasium windows to view the city in the valley below. We had had our choice of voting machine, and I should have picked the one closest to the windows so the girls could hang out at the windows. Oh well, since it wasn’t crowded, it didn’t really matter that she had escaped me for a few minutes. When we got back out to the parking lot, it was a zoo! Our polling place was an elementary school, and it was the start of kid-dropoff time. I heard a mom tell the “traffic person” that one kid had already been almost hit with the car chaos. I’m glad it didn’t take too long to get out of the parking lot (and I’m glad I don’t have to deal with kid drop-offs/pick-ups like that!).

When we got back home, the girls spent some time in the playroom working on their secret anniversary gifts for my husband and I. It has been all M’s idea to make these gifts, and I gave them a box to store everything in. This is the first year that the girls have paid any attention to our anniversary, but it’s probably mostly due to their increased interest in weddings in general. After all, M married Princess Jasmine a few weeks ago (the service was lovely). (M hasn’t even seen the movie Aladdin yet, but recognizes the princess on their princess band-aids and stickers they get from the doctor’s office.)

Then C helped me make meatballs, with the toddler at our side, while M played outside. M didn’t want to make meatballs because she didn’t want her hands to get messy. C loves tactile stimulation like this, and was an excellent helper. She did a great job cracking the eggs, mixing all the ingredients together, and rolling the balls.

Then we all went outside with M. M had been doing some “farm work” and I finally got to see what it was. She had carefully dug a hole and lined it with rocks. It was a feeding trough to put grass in for her horses. I was surprised that she had chosen to dig the hole in the lawn, and not in the designated digging area (which was two feet away from her chosen spot). When I asked her about it, she replied, “But Mama, there was no grass in this spot in the yard, only dirt.” Can’t argue with that! The yard is very crappy, and our landlords have really let both yards go.

M and C also picked out a spot in the backyard for their “outdoor playhouse.” It is a small area of bushes and other plants tucked behind the garage, up on a ledge, in a back corner of the yard. You can’t even see them back there when they are all the way in – a perfect hiding place. I totally prefer outside play in a natural setting over playgrounds any day. I think they get so much more out of it, which is why we would rather do  a hike than go to a playground. We do visit playgrounds every so often, usually to meet friends or for biking (our neighborhood is too hilly for biking). I’m glad that our small yard provides enough interesting landscapes for them to explore!

Then the toddler went down for her nap and the rest of us ate lunch. Then dollhouse play, a visit to the library and speech class. Oh gosh, and the day wasn’t over yet!

Since we will be moving soon, I have let most of our local memberships expire. One that expired was the lovely Red Butte Garden. But luckily, the city library has this great program for exploring some of the local venues. Once a year, your family can check out the Community Exploration Card and get free access for that month to Red Butte, Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, The Leonardo, and Natural History Museum of Utah. Today was a beautiful, balmy autumn day, and Red Butte is just up the street from speech class, so we headed there.

“Mama, when moose die, do they become statues?” – C, 3 and 10/12 years old

Yes, we had more discussion about mortality and moose today! The girls are pretty familiar with the garden, and it was fun to see it in a different season (last time we had visited was late spring/early summer). C shook the hydrangea branches to see the dying flower petals fall. M found the fish in the small reflecting pool. The Children’s Garden is always a hit. We walked down to the pond area, that was new-to-us and first heard, then saw the waterfall. And we noticed the fuzzy buds on a magnolia bush. C pointed out that we have a friend named Magnolia. When we got home we looked on the computer to see what the fuzzy buds became in the springtime — flowers, just has M had guessed. It was a beautiful time in the garden with the sun warming our hearts.

When we got back home, for good this time, we had a delicious snack that a friend had pinned on Pinterest. Soooo delicious! These chewy, peanut butter-chocolaty oat bars might be my go-to snack now! I added coconut flakes to it too, yummers. It was hard to stop at one, or two, and was a hit with the girls as well.

A Monday Discussing Mortality and Moose

Today was full of fun and learning, so I felt inspired to blog about it. We started the morning with a little PBS television and breakfast. Had a great conversation about death, brought up by M, stating that she doesn’t want to die because she wants to become a mommy. And ending with C saying, “If Grandma dies, you will be so sad. If you die, M, L, and I will be so sad.”

We hopped in the car to attend the nature storytime at the Swaner EcoCenter. Today’s topic was moose. They read two stories, put together a moose puzzle, saw how tall a bull moose is, and made moose masks. I’m not sure what the girls learned, because M was the student that kept answering all of the teacher’s questions. She knew that only the bulls had antlers, recognized the moose’s footprint, and could identify between a bull, cow, calf, deer, and elk. When she rambled a sentence off to the teacher, the teacher didn’t understand and just did the “uh-uh” answer, but when M spoke just a word or two, everyone understood her. I wonder if I should tell the teacher in advance that it would be helpful if she doesn’t understand to give us time for M to get it right. I know it might be distracting during the class, but it’s really rude to M — she can tell when she’s not understood, so basically the teacher is showing her that what she says isn’t important. I also wish that the class was geared more towards learning/investigating than just stories and crafts. I guess we will have to supplement with additional learning at home (it’s what we do anyway!). The girls love attending and it is always a fun little trek into the mountains. The class is held twice a month, but I like just going once a month.

As a treat, we always walk to a nearby cafe to pick out a cookie afterwards. This cafe makes a bunch of yummy stuff, but they always have a sugar cookie decorated for the season/holiday. Last time it was ghosts; this time pumpkins.

Then we went home for lunch. We finished reading our Anna Hibiscus chapter book at lunch time. The girls loved this book! Each chapter starts with the same lines: “Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa.”, and the girls love to recite along with me. There are other chapter books in the series, as well as a picture book, Anna Hibiscus’ Song, which we’ve read from the library before, and I’ve since secretly purchased and saving to give to the girls.

The girls played outside, and inside, while I did some housework. Then we went to a park so I could attempt to run, with the two littles in the double jogging stroller, and M biking alongside. But early on, M complained of tired legs, and also wanted a slower pace, so I only ran a half mile for almost 10 minutes. But something is better than nothing. We hung around to see the ducks, geese, and seagulls at the pond, and then went back home.

The girls did more outside play; apparently they have been playing “yard work”, since they have been helping me this past week with raking up leaves and cleaning the gardens.

Learning about Chimpanzees and Jane Goodall

After learning about Tanzania, we decided to study chimpanzees and Jane Goodall. Jane Goodall, as you all probably know, studied the chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania.

We read a great children’s book about Jane’s life, The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps. We watched most of a documentary DVD about her (thanks, Netflix streaming!), Jane’s Journey.

On a side note, I wish I had learned more about Jane’s life when I was in high school. It was my dream to go to East Africa and study elephants; I was so surprised to find out that she went to Tanzania on her own (with her mother) and happened to get her dream job, just like that (being in the right place at the right time). I honestly felt that only a lucky few get to study elephants, so I let my dream slide away. Maybe I would have been more determined to follow my passion if I had studied Jane’s journey too. Though I am very happy with my new life passions now. And I do wonder now if I would hate living in heat; I am quite a crabby one when overheated. I have a love/hate relationship with the sun.

We read a few different books about chimpanzees from the library and colored coloring pages of chimpanzees. We watched the Disneynature Chimpanzee movie (again, thanks Netflix streaming!). I so hated the anthropomorphism in the movie, but it did make the movie entertaining for the kids. We did some of the activities from an activity packet on the Disneynature website, making a chimpanzee mask, dot-to-dot coloring, etc. We compared our footprints to a chimpanzee’s footprint, measured our arms and legs and compared them to a chimpanzee’s, and we discussed differences between monkeys and apes.

Whenever the girls and I study something together, I may write on the blog all that we studied, but that doesn’t mean that the girls learned everything. For example, when we studied Tanzania, we learned how to count to ten in Swahili and some other Swahili words, but a few weeks later, M really only remembers how to say hello (Jambo), father (baba), and maybe the number 5 (tano). We can study a subject often and still learn something new every time. That’s what learning is all about, right?

So here is what the girls can tell you about chimpanzees:

  • Jane Goodall studied them in Tanzania and saw them using tools.
  • Chimpanzees sometimes hunt and eat monkeys.
  • Chimpanzees use tools, like rocks for breaking nut shells or sticks for catching termites.
  • Chimpanzees make a nest in the trees out of sticks and branches for sleeping at night.
  • Chimpanzees nurse their babies.
  • Chimpanzees are apes.
  • Chimpanzees have thumbs on their hands and feet.
  • Apes can rotate their shoulders fully to swing from branches; monkeys can not.
  • Apes don’t have tails; most monkeys have (visible) tails.
  • Apes have arms longer than their legs; monkeys do not.
  • Apes and monkeys are diurnal (active during the day).

We’ve been talking a lot lately about whether Curious George is an ape or a monkey. I think he appears to be an ape, so it bothers!!! me that the author calls him a monkey all the time (this is a pet peeve of mine at the zoo, when I overhear a parent calling an orangutan a monkey to their toddler, for example. People, use the correct term, don’t dumb it down! Yes, I’m crazy….and probably too judgmental; perhaps the parent doesn’t know the difference between monkeys and apes–not everyone took a Primate class in college.). Anyhow, George is a fictional character, and the author has every right to create a new species of monkey like him. So I just need to Let. It. Go. Seems to be a constant practice in my life right now: breathing and letting go. 🙂


  • "Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " - John Holt
  • LipperLoppy? what???

    “LipperLoppy” is a word that my daughters invented. It is usually used as a silly adjective or noun. It's a frequent family joke and a good representation of our family's crazy joyful life.
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