Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One Wonderful Day in October

After a cold, rainy, foggy week, today was Indian Summer and we took full advantage.

When the ladybugs came out to celebrate the warm weather we had an impromptu ladybug study, right in the middle of math. The boys captured 2 ladybugs, or ladybird beetles to put in our "Creature Peeper".  EJ wanted to make sure we had a male and female so they would mate. We found out that you can't tell a ladybug's sex by looking at it. In fact it's often not possible to identify gender without dissection (which we, of course, did not do). Sadly for EJ, fall is not the time for ladybugs to mate anyway. In temps below 55ยบ F they hibernate, or more correctly they enter a wintering state called diapause which is more akin to dormancy than hibernation. We also found that in addition to feeding on aphids some ladybugs eat milkweed, which the kids remembered is the only food that Monarch caterpillars eat. We found out that their coloring, in conjunction with a foul smelling fluid they secrete, is a ladybug's defense against predators. The ladybug is the official state insect of Massachusetts (also New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, Ohio, and Tennessee).  The most fun thing we learned is that 4 ladybugs and some aphids were sent into space in 1999. Researchers wanted to find out if aphids were able escape from ladybugs in zero gravity. It turns out the ladybugs did just fine and ate all the aphids. We fed our ladybugs raisins and released them later this evening. It seems doubtful we'll see our friends again this year unless this warm weather continues tomorrow.

Later we cut our school day short to head to Look Park where the boys made a giant leaf pile to jump in, played zombie tag with some other kids they met at the playground. They followed the train tracks part way around the park and climbed a big orange maple tree. We walked through the small zoo (while mom and dad talked about the ethics of keeping Red-Tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles in small enclosures). It was so much fun just exploring this huge park when it was relatively empty of other visitors.

The great thing about today is that we were able be completely spontaneous. T's schedule will always be irregular; weekends, evenings, nights, you name it. If the boys were in school we would have very little time together as a family. Things just came together today. T was off, we had a beautifully warm fall day, and the insight to chuck our schedule to the wind. This flexibility is quickly becoming one of my favorite reasons to home school!


Benjamin and Laura said...

How fabulous & inspiring! What wonderful parents your boys chose! xo

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