Homeschool – Frog Week!

Our frog week turned into frog weeks! I had intended to spend a week studying frogs but it drifted into two. We were just having so much fun!

We read so many books, learned about the life cycle (and will hopefully be raising our own tadpoles soon!), talked about the differences between frogs and toads and used our own Freddy the Frog as an example, and had a nice discussion about how Freddy, although he is a frog, still lives mostly on land, so it was also a good moment to talk about how there are sometimes exceptions to rules.

However, the highlight of our study was the Kiwi Crate box we had been gifted by a friend! I had always been curious about them so I was excited to see what was inside as well, and Wyatt absolutely loved it.

It was a fun mix of arts and crafts combined with science. We started with a chalk and frog activity, where Wyatt grated different colored chalk, and carefully tapped the dust into water. He dropped a paper frog into the chalk, again very carefully, and then we waited for the chalk to stick. The science behind this is that water likes to stick itself more than to air, so this means that at the surface the water forms a tighter layer as it hugs itself, which creates strong layer to hold up the chalk dust. However, if you bump it, the layer breaks and the chalk sinks. The artsy part comes in with the frog – if you haven’t caused the chalk to sink, it will stick to the paper frog. We were successful a few times, although, not every time. Lol.

Next up was the leaping lily pad activity! This was Wyatt’s favorite. We took the frog from the previous activity and stuck it to the lily pad, wound a rubber band through the notches according to the directions, and then turned it inside out, with the frog on top. Then when you hold it down with your finger and let go, it jumps up into the air! This works through the release of energy. I could never manage to get a photo of it in the air, but rest assured, it hopped!

The final activity was an aquarium in a bottle. It had a lot of steps, so to sum up, we added colored salt water to plastic fish and then floated them in water. The trick to floating them up and down is to balance the amount of water and air correctly. Too much air or too much water will cause them to float on the surface or to sink to the bottom. We did have to make a few adjustments to make all our fish float up and down!

I was pretty impressed by this subscription box! It came with all the information and materials needed (minus the water of course) and Wyatt loved it.

Overall, we had a great two weeks of learning about frogs! Next week is our final week of pond life, and we are ending on Wyatt’s request, snakes!

Resource Round Up!

The Books We Used:

(contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Frog and Friends || Marsh Morning || Marsh Music || Among the Pond People || And the Bullfrogs Sing

Other Resources:

Frog Life Cycle Figurine Set

Frog Mini Unit Study – Stephanie Hathaway

Frog Life Cycle Activity – The Classroom Creative

Kiwi Crate from Kiwico

Homeschooling: Russia, Tigers, and the Lunar New Year

We have been quite busy around here, learning about Russian folk tales and traditions, tigers, and the Lunar New Year. It love when we can combine subjects and learning, and we have also started adding in more geography and map reading, etc.

I haven’t posted about our homeschooling for a few weeks; I think we last left off at the very beginning, with Peter and the Wolf (which Wyatt still loves and plays at least once a day). We moved on to other stories, Good Night, Wind which is Yiddish, The Snow Child, and The Littlest Matryoshka. The Littlest Matryoshka is not actually a folk tale but I wanted to read Wyatt a story that introduced the Russian nesting dolls to him and that story was just so cute. More on that in a minute. I loved his reactions to these stories, to our retellings using our storytelling basket, and his answers to the journal question for each story.

Of the three stories, Wyatt liked The Littlest Matryoshka the best. I ended up reading it to him a few times that week before it went back to the library, and I agree, it was a lovely little story. When I asked him what design his matryoshka would be if he were a toymaker, he told me without hesitation that his would look like owls. So of course, I was on a mission to find him a set of owl nesting dolls. I told one of my friends and she sent me a link to a plain wooden set, and suggested that we make our own, since we love a project in this house. At first I was like no way – but after a bit I decided that was a fantastic idea. So over the snowy weekend, Wyatt, Billy, and I painted a set of owl nesting dolls for Wyatt.

I assisted Wyatt with the two largest, Billy took on the two smallest, and I did the middle one. This was a really fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon together!

I honestly really loved our art project that accompanied Good Night, Wind. With Wyatt’s cerebral palsy we are always working on fine motor skills, and cutting is so hard for us. First just for him, because his right hand has a difficult time holding on to the paper while “lefty” cuts, and for me because I am right-handed trying to help him cut with his left. It is always interesting. Anyway, the images for the book are stunning, made from cut paper and turned into colorful collages that have such movement. I decided we were going to make a collage too, inspired by the book, using the cut paper technique to give Wyatt some extra practice cutting.

I think it turned out super cute!

We also studied tigers – because of both the Year of the Tiger and Siberian tigers, of course. We also read How to Catch a Dragon, a picture book about the Chinese New Year, and learned that Wyatt was born in the Year of the Sheep, while Billy and I are both Year of the Rabbit.

Wyatt particularly liked the mask.

This was the end of journey through this area of the world for now! Our curriculum has us going to Scotland next, then I think Vietnam after that. We are certainly “world travelers” this year.

Books Read:

(Contains Amazon Affiliate Links)

The Snow Child by Freya Littledale || The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss || How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace || Good Night Wind by Linda Elovitz Marshall

Resource Round Up:

(Links to printables, videos, and extra materials used)

Tiger Mini Unit – Life with Moot Moot

Welcome to Russia Lapbook Unit

Matryoshka dolls

Chinese New Year printables

Let’s Go Luna episodes Season 1 episodes 3 and 4 (Moscow); Dragon Dance episode

Homeschooling: Russian Unit Week 1

So this week was way more fun than I anticipated. Peter and the Wolf was a great way to kick off our Russian folklore and geography unit; Wyatt is such a music lover that he loved listening to the symphony (or symphonic folk tale as I have seen it referred to). And has kept listening to all week… lol.

We started the week by reading the book Peter and the Wolf by Ian Beck. There are multiple versions out there but after flipping through a few this was the one I thought would work the best for us. We then retold the story using little stick puppets that we made together. Wyatt loves doing our retellings with puppets or figures and props – I think there is a bit of a drama kid in my son. Then Tuesday we listened to and watched a cartoon version of the symphony narrated by the one and only David Bowie. We talked about the different instruments, and how each character had a specific instrument to represent them. We played with the versions of each family of instruments that we have in our house (we did not have any brass family, we will have to fix that!), then did a listening exercise. We listened to just the parts for each character, one at a time, discussing the tempo, and how the music made us feel. Interestingly, Wyatt did not like the music for the duck. He loved the bird and the Peter music though. Then we did another retelling worksheet. And called it a day for Peter and the Wolf.

Wednesday we didn’t do much with Russia, and focused mainly on our basics that we are also working on -reading and math, and started our map reading lessons. But Thursday and Friday we jumped back in, this time focusing on Kandinsky. I can’t recommend the book The Noisy Paint Box enough. I had no idea honestly who Kandinsky was before this week, and now I feel like I am going to do some reading for my own self. He was fascinating! Kandinsky started the abstract art movement, and also had something called synthesia. When he heard music, he saw color; when he saw color, he heard music. Fascinating! Art for the week was inspired Kandinsky of course. In the book we read how Kandinsky took art lessons and was told what to paint, houses and trees and landscapes, but it didn’t fulfill him. It was only after a trip to the symphony that he allowed himself the freedom to quit his day job as a lawyer and create art full time. So for Wyatt’s art lesson this week, we had a directed art project (the circles) and then I put on classical music and told Wyatt to paint how it made him feel. (I have to admit I loved how we talked about the instruments and the music and feelings twice this week, both with Peter and the Wolf and with Kandinsky. I love when that crossover happens)

He created two paintings – one with watercolor that he called the sun and moon, and another painting using tempera paints.

What do you see in his abstract?

This week has been a blast. We are obviously not delving into the history of the Soviet Union, Russia, or current events, but focusing on art and music, traditions and stories. It is perfect for these cold wintry days. I even saved a project for tomorrow, since we have been baking on Sundays. We are going to read The Bun by Marcia Brown and then try our hand at making Vatrushka buns!

Resource Round-Up!

Books We Read:

(this section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Me on the Map || The Bun || Peter and the Wolf || The Noisy Paint Box

Printables and Videos:

The Masterpiece Studio – Adventures in Russia Week One (I am breaking this up and doing it over a few weeks)

Winter Math Activities – Place Value

Peter and the Wolf Cut and Tell Worksheet

Peter and the Wolf Listening Journal and Fact Sheets

I am looking forward to next week already!

Homeschooling: First Week Back After Break

Hello friends! It was our first week back after our two week holiday break, and while the first day left us both exhausted, we had a pretty good week.

This weeks focus was on winter, which was appropriate as winter came roaring in fiercely the past few days, with weather temps in the teens and lower. Our curriculum, Blossom and Root, gave us the choice of three different books for our language arts this week – I decided to use two of them, Grandmother Winter and The Story Blanket. I had not ever read either of them myself before this week, and wow, I loved them! Wyatt enjoyed Grandmother Winter more than The Story Blanket, but I adored them both. We love using our storytelling basket this year, which is a new addition. Wyatt loves listening to the books and then using manipulative and figures and scarves and such to act out the stories. We put tiny paper snowflakes in a scarf and then Wyatt shook it, causing it to snow, just like Grandmother Winter does in the book. It was cute. Then we also added snowflakes to our Family Tree mural wall – and I snuck in a bit of OT while we were at it.

Since our books were winter themed, we learned a bit more about winter itself, from snowflakes to hibernating animals to just random fun facts. We of course did all of the “basics” as well, reading and phonics and math, and I found a fun “Forest Friends Math” that we have used in addition to our normal lessons as well.

Art this week was creating a winter themed fiber arts scene out of wool roving. This ended up being a collaborative piece as Wyatt did not enjoy the feeling of the roving. So he directed me and I placed it where he wanted it. He seemed pretty happy with the result.

Thursday was a cozy day of learning. We finished our work in the morning and in the afternoon, we read together and created another collaborative art piece. I call it our “kinda quilt”. It was a good way to spend a freezing cold afternoon!

Now, the resource roundup!

Books Read:

(This section contains affiliate links)

Rabbit’s Snow Dance || Winter Walk || Poe and Lars || The Snowflake || Snowflake in My Pocket || Walking in a Winter Wonderland || Snow || Sneezy the Snowman || How to Catch a Snowman || Little Owl’s Snow || The Big Book of Snow and Ice (this one is fantastic!! I highly recommend it)

Next week is more animals less winter, then after that we are beginning a few week long unit about Russia! I am extremely excited!! I took Russian language classes in college, and so so many Russian history courses as well. It’s going to be a good few weeks!

Homeschool: Reindeer!

This week has been full but fun! We have really been enjoying our Jan Brett book focus for language arts this month, (We read Gingerbread Baby and First Dog the previous two weeks) but this one has been our favorite so far. I have a whole bunch waiting in our book basket for the next few days leading up to Christmas and I am super excited to read them to Wyatt.

This week I tried to turn what we had to do into more fun versions for the holidays. We played with word families, by adding the reindeer for each word family to the correct sleigh (ex. red went into the -ed sleigh) and Wyatt loved this! I am going to have to figure out more ways to do something similar throughout the rest of the year. We did journal and copywork for The Wild Christmas Reindeer, and imagined what it would be like to have a pet reindeer. Then we read a brand new to us book, Santa’s Story which we both really loved. I am pretty sure it has become Wyatt’s favorite Christmas book this year. We also retold the story using little stick puppets and then did some story mapping.

For math, we used some Forest Friends printables that I bought, which is adorable. It is a framework with little forest animals that you can use for adding and subtracting manipulatives, and since it is not Christmasy only wintry we can continue to use it alongside our regular math this winter. Science and nature was well, all about reindeer themselves. Diagramming a reindeer, experiments and lessons on how they communicate, what they eat, their life cycle, how they eat, how they see, etc, which ended with making a reindeer castanet to simulate the sound of reindeer’s hooves, and a mossy reindeer ornament after a reindeer’s diet. We also talked about herd migration, which was tricky since Wyatt is a Santa believer and in his magic reindeer. I told him that all other reindeer walk, unless they are one of Santa’s reindeer. Today we have a few painting projects left but I am waiting until later in the afternoon to do them, as Wyatt generally needs a bath after.

And now, we are on break! We try to follow the same schedule as my niece in public school, so today is our first day off for two weeks! Wyatt and I both definitely need one. We finished strong and with a bit of holiday magic to get us to the end, and now we can relax for a bit. Or at least, he can. I can relax once Christmas is over…

Books We Read:

Resources:

Curious Trails: Reindeer from Books and Willows (I bought this as part of a winter bundle but you can buy it separately)

Forest Friends Math from A Childhood Set Apart (also bought as part of a winter mega bundle)

If I had a pet reindeer printable (free!)

And Jan Brett’s website has a ton of free printables to use with her books!

And with that…I had better get ready to paint!

Homeschooling: Ice Age..

This week just sort of evolved organically. We are reading all Jan Brett this month for language arts, and when I remembered The First Dog, I thought about Sunset of the Sabertooth, and we just leapt from there. This was a very fun week!

Since our language arts revolves around Jan Brett this month, most of our reading/literature work centered around her book The First Dog. This is such a cute book! We discussed whether we thought Kip should have befriended Dog or not (yes of course), characters, setting, and vocabulary. We also learned about the different ice age animals that pop up throughout the story – sabertooth cats, woolly mammoths, cave bears – which were also present in the Magic Tree House book we were reading as well. Wyatt diagrammed each animal, we read books about them, and watched a few videos about them as well.

Wyatt’s favorite part of the week was the cave painting he did. It was very messy but sometimes being creative is messy. This kid loves to paint, no matter how. We found some Native American flute music to listen to while he painted; Sunset of the Sabertooth focused on a flute and that was as close as I could get. We both really enjoyed it. Wyatt’s second favorite thing is music.

Science this week actually sort of meshed well. We were learning about weathering, erosion, and metamorphic rocks. I had a bunch of experiments lined up for Wyatt that I thought for sure he would love, but he seemed sort of ambivalent about them. Lol. Our science curriculum gives a few different options – the book basket crew, outdoor crew, the tabletop demo crowd, and arts and crafts crowd. I switch it up all the time, but it seems Wyatt is definitely in the arts and crafts camp pretty solidly, so if I do switch it up, we will also do the arts and crafts project as well.

And for a fun finish, tonight we are going to watch Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas.

What We Read:

(this section contains Amazon affiliate links)

The First Dog by Jan Brett || Sunset of the Sabertooth || Woolly Mammoths || Sabertooth Cats

Resources:

Besides our Blossom and Root curriculum, we also used:

The First Dog by Jan Brett Book Companion and Ice Age Animal Diagramming from Curriculum Hound via Teachers Pay Teachers

The First Dog by Jan Brett Book Companion by Amy Labrasciano via Teachers Pay Teachers

Next week: Reindeer!

Homeschool: Fairy Tales, Wolves, and China

I debated posting about our homeschool week this week, since we it was primarily a week of reading and information collecting, and not a ton of creating and doing. So basically, we did a lot but not really much to show. I will just have to tell instead!

Wyatt’s curriculum this year is based on folk and fairy tales, which I think provides more than one might initially think. We can explore the same tale from other countries, different versions, go down those rabbit trails that the books spark interest in, whether it is place setting, a particular animal, a theme. So many opportunities for learning! This week we read Lon Po Po, which is a Little Red Riding Hood story from China. It is fantastic honestly, without any violence toward humans if that is something that will bother your child. The wolf dies but it is sort of understated and not violent. Then we were supposed to create a wolf peg doll. I helped Wyatt with his and I have to be honest, it scares me. Lol. It turned out super creepy, which was not really the intention, as part of our week this week was about Wolf Awareness! Lon Po Po has a dedication thanking wolves for taking one for the team all the time, and being the “bad guy” in the story more times than not. Wolves are predators, they hunt, that is how they live, feed their offspring. And humans and wolves do butt heads at times as humans spread farther across our planet and use the land. It’s hard to share. And it’s hard to remember that they are not evil or malicious – and certainly will not gobble you up whole as they do in the original Little Red Riding Hood story!

We followed Lon Po Po up with the James Marshall version – I just love his illustrations and storytelling. This one does stick to the traditional story, and both granny and little red get gobbled right up, and the hunter slits the throat of the wolf. I have to admit, I did not read that line to Wyatt! I substituted the hunter rescued granny and red without going into detail. As we had been reading these tales and also learning about wolves all week long, we made a comparison chart between real wolves and the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, which was a great way to talk about differences in fact and fiction.

China was also part of our lessons this week. As Lon Po Po is a Chinese folk tale, I thought I should probably introduce the country and culture to Wyatt. We skipped ahead in our Magic Tree House reading to Day of the Dragon King, to keep the theme similar. This week we sort of just talked about China, found it on the world map, watched Let’s Go Luna Beijing, and read our Magic Tree House book. Tonight Wyatt will be trying an assortment of Chinese foods, and then next week we will delve further into the topic.

This week worked out perfectly in sync with Wolf Awareness Week, which was totally unplanned. A happy accident. (I love Bob Ross..) We talked about how important wolves are to our ecosystem and planet, to the state of Michigan, and about wolves in general. The New York Wolf Conservation Center has educational resources online for older students but they are still neat to check out. I used them as a base for what we talked about. (A bucket list item for me is to visit the NY Wolf Conservation Center and camp there!) You can find their resources here.

So this week was more of an information gathering week! Next week we read about foxes, and continue to learn about China!

We use Blossom and Root First Grade for our curriculum, and math lessons for living education for math. I also don’t share the different phonics, math, etc we do generally.

Homeschool Update: Coyotes, Turtles, and a Failed Field Trip

This week was a doozy! I was super excited about it – we had so much material to cover that I absolutely loved and couldn’t wait to introduce to Wyatt. For the most part, it all worked out very nicely. Except for that field trip…

This week we took a mini-break from math to work on a special focus topic based on the book We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. It was so comprehensive, including bits of social studies and geography and science and nature. We read the book first, then “dove” right in. Wyatt learned about the importance of water (back to that whole idea of how all things are nature and all things are connected) – how it is important to all living things, to our planet, to every part of our bodies. About how the amount of fresh water compared to salt water is vastly different, and how we need to protect these resources, to be good stewards of our world. We talked about different bodies of water, and of course created a few art projects as well. We did not manage to get to it all, but I hope to include the rest next week. I am actually in love with both paintings Wyatt worked on this week – he did a mixed media watercolor of a pond, and then later in the week we did a similar project with coyotes. It also gave us the opportunity to talk about warm colors and cool colors!

For our coyote study, we covered their anatomy, diet, habitat, and listened to a few videos online of their yips and howls. We finished up with his research notebook page, and the other mixed media-esque painting. (Note – I drew and cut out the coyote silhouette for him, but that painted background is all him. As is the placement of the coyote. Also note- I am not an artist. Lol)

I was also excited because we read three Indigenous/Native American based books this week. It actually just worked out this way which was a cool coincidence. In language arts we read When Turtle Grew Feathers, which is the Choctaw tale of Rabbit and the Hare. I let Wyatt inspect and handle my turtle shell that I found a few years ago, as part of the lesson. We also imagined different animals wearing the shell, as turkey did in our story.

Books We Read:

(Contains Amazon affiliate links)

Coyote Sings to the Moon by Thomas King || Blast Off Readers Turtle or Tortoise || Blast Off Readers Coyotes || When Turtle Grew Feathers by Tim Tingle || We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

So… lets talk about that failed field trip! On Wednesday the plan was to head to the nature center at a local metropark early in the day to work on science and nature. The nature center has turtles and tortoises, a stuffed coyote to view, a river out back, a display about the local indigenous peoples who once lived there – we were going to cover all the bases! My mom was going to come too, as she hasn’t really been out out in a while and I thought it would be fun. And it still was, just not what we had planned! We got there to find out that school year hours are different than summer and weekend hours, and it was closed! We decided we would just take a little walk on the overlook, check out the river, then head back to the car. Which we did, and it was a grogeous view, and all the leaves – it was such a perfect fall morning. Until the mosquitoes found us! My poor boyo was covered in welty mosquito bites, he has such a bad allergic reaction to them. I felt horrible! I hadn’t put on insect repellent as we were literally out there five minutes, and that was really all we were going to be out there, so I didn’t even think about it. Plus, it is October! So we left as fast we could. Somehow in all our hurry, my license slipped out of my back pocket onto the trail, unbeknownst to me. We were about fifteen minutes away when one of the interpreters whom we have known for years texted me that my license had been turned in. So, I turned back around to get it. I got it from her, and on the way home drove thru McDonald’s for some much needed coffee and french fries! So all is well that ends well!

Next week is all about wolves and skunks, Little Red Riding Hood, Ninjas, and subtraction! It should be an interesting week!

Homeschooling: Pirates, Raccoons, Magical Fish!

First, can we talk about how big this kid looks these days? What is happening? Where is my baby? Lol.

We have been so busy the past two weeks! We have established a pretty good routine – we start with Language Arts and phonics, then move on to math in the mornings. Then in the afternoons we rotate between history and science, along with whatever extra unit study I have thrown in the mix. It seems to be working well!

This week in Language Arts we were supposed to read Magic Fish but being me, I remembered we had a similar book, The 1000 Star Hotel. Wyatt absolutely loves this story, written by the Okee Dokee Brothers, whom he also loves. And even better, there is an accompanying audio for it! We were able to read it together, and then listen to it (for the 1000th time maybe but he loves it so it was perfect), before getting to work on our copywork/journal/narration pages and projects. The “fun” project was decorating a magic fish, which was supposed to be made from a sock, but I didn’t have an extra so I sewed these little felt fish instead for him to decorate. They turned out pretty cute! We skipped the rabbit trail suggestion of studying a specific fish, Wyatt just wasn’t that thrilled with any fish suggestions and I figured we had enough to learn about so we moved on.

For our extra study unit, that I will probably refer to as our nature study, we started a month long unit about nocturnal animals. Our animal for this week was the raccoon. It was a cute little study – we read a few books about nocturnal animals and raccoons, played a matching game, and then matched shadow pictures to the animal. Wyatt also completed his journal page about raccoons which I am going to put together in a book at the end of the month. I also felt quite clever in finding this craft. We are talking about simple fractions in math, and I talked about halves and equal sides and all that while I was showing him how to cut hearts out of construction paper. We have to do this sort of thing hand over hand, so I did a few as demo and then cut a few together before he assembled it all. I think it turned out super cute!

We are using The Waldock Way’s Passport to Adventure for our history unit this year, although I am doing a rather poor job of connecting the historical parts to it in our lessons. It is turning into more of additional language arts right now – although, one of the GLCE goals for first grade is about maps, and we made a treasure map, so I guess I hit one goal. This curriculum is based on the Magic Tree House series and this week we were reading Pirates Past Noon. These books are super fast reads and pretty cute! We completed notebooking pages and journal pages based on the reading, talked about pirate treasure, what Wyatt would choose to put in a buried treasure (fruit snacks, a Mickey Mouse toy, and a book), made a map, crafted a cute pirate puppet, and painted a treasure chest, which I filled with “treasure”. This was Wyatt’s favorite thing we did. I find him going through this treasure chest all the time, and putting on all of the jewelry. I think today we are going to watch Peter Pan, eat Pirate Booty, and hide the treasure somewhere and make a map for Billy to find when he gets home. We also have to make time for our art project today as well.

We did other things as well, like sight words (which we call cake words) and word family activities, learning about the layers of the earth, make a felt model of the layers, fractions, telling time, and all the other things you learn in first grade.

I will post about our nocturnal animals study in a future post, with links and activities for anyone who is interested! I am going to combine that post into multiple weeks as well, so I will probably post that information next Friday.

Next week is all about coyotes, mountains, turtles, and the Choctaw Nation! And with that, I better get moving! I have a lot to get together before Monday!

Field Trip: Fossil Park, OH

One perk to homeschooling – being in charge of your own field trips. So if we felt like packing up early and driving to Ohio to check out a fossil park on a Monday morning, no big deal. Bonus – going at that time pretty much assured we would have the place to ourselves. Which we did.

I had been looking for some places to take Wyatt to introduce him to the idea of fossils and rocks- we are about to begin a whole rocks and minerals unit in science and when I can get him outside or hands on, I do. I found one north of us, about four hours away, and then my brother sent me the link to another, this one only an hour drive south. This is where we ended up going – Fossil Park, Ohio.

I will admit at first look it is a bit underwhelming. Like a place teens would go to have fires and beers or like a crumbling parking lot somewhere. I was like, well, regardless of how this turns out, Wyatt will have gotten out to play in an environment that is unlike any other he has been to before. There wasn’t too much to see, just gravelly ground, a large container of water, and a few little tables and benches. Pretty simple set up.

We were optimistic, as we generally are. I had read the website and printed out a few materials before we left, including an information sheet that had illustrations and descriptions of the types of fossils we could hope to find, which we had reviewed in the car on the drive. Fossil Park is the remains of a shallow sea bed from the Devonian Era, 375 million years ago. No dinosaurs. We had our milk jug with the top part cut off, also suggested per the website, to use to keep our treasures in. After a brief glance around, we plopped onto the ground and started searching.

I found a piece of a trilobite right away, and I felt very victorious. Giddy almost. Billy was systematically combing through the dirt, I was sort of attacking things a bit more energetically and also trying to teach Wyatt, who was busy stuffing his overalls full of rocks and fossils, neglecting the milk jug in his excitement. He was pretty proud of his collection.

Let me stop a second and talk to you about these overalls. This is not an ad or affiliate or anything, I just really love them. I bought them for him in the spring – as Wyatt scoots a lot right now while we work on walking, he literally goes through pants like crazy. Anything harder than grass just tears the seat right up – and eventually, him, if I don’t watch. These Key Apparel overalls are like the toughest purchase I have ever bought him. They have withheld an entire spring of playing outside, and now, a rock quarry. They are a little worn but still intact. I can’t stress enough how durable these overalls are! They are from a farm supply outfitter, so they are made for hard work, but if you have an active kid that goes through clothes like crazy, I highly recommend these overalls. I only wish he could wear them in the summer – but the very thing that makes them so durable would also make them too hot for the summer. So we will count our blessings and be happy that he can wear them at least in the spring and fall.

Back to the fossil hunt. We were busy at work, Wyatt and I near the top of the quarry, Billy near the bottom, sifting and examining. I was explaining different things to Wyatt, showing him different pieces. We were alone in the quarry for quite a while before a man came walking in, and after a few minutes he came up to us. It turned out that he was the Parks Project Manager and super nice! He told us about what we could find, and even dug with us for twenty minutes, giving us his finds and telling us what they were. It was really cool and like having a personalized guide. He was telling us as well, that they have big plans for the quarry and next year it will be built up more.

We stayed quite a bit longer than I anticipated, almost two hours. Wyatt had fun, and so did Billy and I. I felt sort of like a kid again, sitting in the dirt, just exploring and looking for neat things. I think Billy did too.

We came home with a nice collection in our milk jug! We found a bit of trilobite (top of the big rock), brachiopods (the shell looking piece), and then lots of crinoids, which are bits of sea lilies. I am holding a bit of stem (the long cylinder) and then bits of the stem, the flat washer looking cheerio thing.

If you plan to visit: Expect to get dusty! We were cracking up at how much dust we had on us. Also, when Wyatt’s overalls came off at home tons of small pebbles fell all over the floor, so expect that too. You can only take your collection jug/carton, and water on hot days, no eating or drinking is allowed in the quarry. You can take a brush to dust your specimens. As for being ADA accessible, I would say it is pretty accessible honestly. There is a wheelchair ramp leading down to the quarry, and while it would be a rocky ride inside it can be done. It would be trickier if using a walker or crutches, unless the person scooted like Wyatt. Alternatively, you can sit at the tables and benches and collect from the pile behind the tables as well. Also check the website – it is really informational, and has great printables available, including how to use your visit in your lesson plans.

Overall, we had a really good time! We would definitely go again.