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Spring is for Plants!

In my previous posts, I have mentioned using Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding for our elementary Science. We have been working through A thread (Nature of Matter) of BFSU Volume 1 all year. I had originally planned for us to start in Volume 2 and continue A thread (this is the Classical schedule coming through…), but over the past several weeks there has been a lack of interest in continuing with atoms and molecules. I think the beautiful weather outside has a lot to do with it! So I did some thinking and decided to reevaluate how we are doing our science. 

 
Bernard Nebel, the author of BFSU, encourages moving between the four “threads” or disciplines (Nature of Matter, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Physical Science). I’ve resisted this only because we’ve followed the classical schedule for the past several years, with one subject each year in a four year cycle. But as we move away from the classical schedule a bit, I find myself wanting to jump around a bit (though in an organized way so not stress out my Type A personality). 
 
With that being said, I decided to cover Plants this June. Everything is in bloom, the weather is nice, and we’ve got a great garden in our front yard to study as well.
 
Over the past week or so, we have been studying the basic structures of plants. The core of our lesson has been B10: Plant Science I – Basic Plant Structure. We started with the three basic parts of a plant – roots, stems, and leaves. We discussed how even vastly different plants all have these parts, though often in a modified form. She was fascinated to learn that the spines of a cactus are actually highly modified leaves. 

 

We have a membership with Notebookingpages.com, and I printed up several pages from the Plant Study collection. Over the past week, we have been working through these pages, identifying various plant parts, margin types, leaf arrangements, etc. The Visual Dictionary of Plants is a wonderful resource for learning plant parts.

 
Kyri and I went on a Plant Walk this week, armed with a few nature books and plant identification guides. As we explored, we discussed the three basic parts of a plant, and I asked her to identify various aspects of plants we found, such as:
 
type of leaves – simple or compound
arrangement of leaves – alternate, opposite, whorled, fascicled, or clustered
leaf venation – parallel, pinnate, palmate or arcuate
leaf margins – smooth, serrate, dentate, crenate, sinuate, lobed, or cleft
 
On our plant walk, she was particularly interested in finding a Sweet gum tree, because she had read about it and its identifying features in one of her books. We wrapped up our walk with the triumphant discovery of a Sweet Gum tree at the end of our street.
 
We have built up quite a collection of nature study books, and Kyri absolutely adores them. I can often find her with one or more tucked under her arm. Here are some of our favorites:

Here are several pictures from our walk!

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Vegan Super Bites

This is a simple and delicious treat to make for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack. It’s full of superseeds so it packs quite a punch in the morning. 

 
Vegan Super Bites
 
Combine all ingredients in a stand up mixer (or use a sturdy wooden spoon).
 
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup quick oats
5 Tbsp agave syrup
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup ground flax seeds 
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp maple syrup
 

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After mixing together well, scoop out one spoonful at a time into the palm of your hand and form a compact ball. Set aside on a parchment covered cookie sheet. When all the mix has been formed into balls, move the cookie sheet into the fridge to let them chill and become firm – around 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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pancakes

Maple Oatmeal Superseed Pancakes

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1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup oats
2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flax plus 2 1/2 Tbsp water)
1 banana
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup

Combine dry ingredients (flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, salt, chia and hemp seeds. In a standup mixer combine milk, oil , maple syrup and banana. Add in dry ingredients and flax egg. Cook in preheated, oiled cast iron skillet or griddle.

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Peanut Butter Granola Muffins

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The arctic blast has reached us all the way down here in Texas. So I have been baking comfort food for the kiddos. They absolutely love the peanut butter granola I prepare.
 
But lately I’ve been on a superseed kick, so I have been adding them in where ever I can.
 

I typically bake a triple batch of my peanut butter granola recipe, and lately I have been adding 2 tablespoons each of chia seeds, hemp hearts, and ground flax seed to the oats before adding the liquid ingredients. They give the granola that extra kick of goodness.

I was inspired after browsing recipes on Evernote’s Food app and discovered a recipe for these peanut butter granola muffins. After preparing granola today, I took some and prepared these muffins for the kids. 
 
Peanut Butter Granola Muffins
 
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup granola (use a spatula to break apart clumps)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 banana, mashed
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2 1/2 Tbsp water)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
 
Mix together maple syrup, milk, peanut butter, mashed banana, coconut oil, and vanilla. 
 
In a separate bowl combine flours, granola, and baking powder. 
 
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix together. 
 
Add flax egg and chia seeds and mix to combine.
 
Pour batter into cupcake cups in a muffin tin – cups should be almost completely full.
 
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick or knife comes out clean after inserting.

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The Ever Scholar

I’m working on a new project. Well, it’s not really a project so much as a mission. I have always been a book worm, having several books in queue at any given time. But over the last several years, between the pressure of growing a career and the pressures of growing a family, my personal reading habit has suffered.  

 
Now I find myself moving into a new phase. We are officially done growing our family, and my youngest, at 7 months, sleeps though the night regularly. My home routine s becoming more regular as the children get a little older. While my life is far from calm, with a husband, four kids and four dogs, I am finally able to find small lulls to focus on myself again. 
 
Even though I’ve gone through college and graduate school, I will be the first to tell you I still have a lot to learn. I’m not going back to school, though I am about to start a year-long course that I’m really excited about (I’ll post more details on that soon). What I am doing is reading, lots of good books, on a variety of subjects. And I’m not settling for passive reading, just to log books as “read.” I’m reading books “actively,” taking notes and annotating as I read, following rabbit trails when they appear, participating in online book groups and discussions. 
 
I realized that, as I record my notes on the books I am working through, I’d love to share them with others. Since I’m reading several books at a time, and also doing an in-depth Bible study as well, I have decided a new site would be the best thing for sharing. I will be posting my Bible sudy notes, book journaling and other personal scholar notes over at the The Ever Scholar.  I would love to have you follow my reading progress there!
snails

A Day with Snails

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Okay, maybe snails, pill bugs, worms, and lots and lots of dirt. 
 
We spent the afternoon in our backyard Saturday, enjoying the warm weather and each other’s company. After some family work, tidying up the yard and cutting grass, the kids had a blast exploring under rocks and collecting their favorite pill bugs. 
 

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While the kids enjoyed the bugs and the sunshine, I put in some much needed time in the garden. I didn’t use my garden boxes last year on account of my pregnancy, and honestly hadn’treally considered doing one this year since we will be moving once the house sells. But we ultimately decided it was worth the effort to have some some garden produce while we were still here.  
 

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So I mixed compost into two of my raised beds, and planted lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and peppers. I will need to cover the beds if we have any really cold nights, but it felt great getting things planted. I’m looking forward to many wonderful salads soon!