Our Week in Review: Painting with Black & White, Food Chains, and Following Rivers

No baby yet! Although our last minute preparations have kept me pretty much offline. The house is now clean, the refrigerator stocked, baby pants sewn, and baby sweater and booties knit. We've also been spending a lot of time out of the house. I'm trying to really enjoy these last few days with Silas as an only; savoring the time together with just the two of us and going places and doing things while it's still easy for us to do so.

Here is a glimpse of our past two weeks. You'll notice there's been a pretty huge weather shift...two weeks ago we were wearing winter coats and wool hats and today we were practically in t-shirts and shorts. Spring.

Exploring Art

In all of the painting that we've done over the years, white and black paint have never been included. The past two weeks we've been painting with them exclusively to see what they can do.

Black paper and white paint and white paper and black paint. What do they call you to make?

Silas had an "ah-ha!" moment when he discovered he could use the handle of his brush to make a completely different mark than the bristles.

After painting for awhile, I gave him a short demonstration on color mixing. He experimented with different quantities of black and white and named each resulting mix. "Silver," "Blacky Gray," and "Silvery Darkness" were some of his creations.

During the second week he was excited to mix black and white paint again. We paused to do a demonstration on how to be the boss of the brush: using gentle pressure so that the bristles stay upright and the paint goes where you want it to go.

Nature Study

This week in our biome curriculum we are exploring water. This demonstration was about how water always runs downhill, gathering in small streams, flowing to larger rivers, and eventually ending up in the ocean. We built a hill out of clay and made stream beds. He predicted where he thought the water would flow and then tested his hypothesis by sprinkling water at the top of the "mountain" (simulating rain) to see where it would go. 

We found a map of rivers in the US and I traced how the Iowa River (which runs though the city in which we live) flows from where we are down to the ocean. He then traced all the other rivers, starting with the small streams and finding where they empty into the ocean.

He went back to the clay and wanted to get his hands dirty. He carved other paths to see how they would change where the water went.

Then we headed into town to look at our river and imagine the water flowing from right underneath us all the way to the ocean.

We threw in a stick and watched it travel down the river, talking about how far it would travel and what it might see on its journey.

One of our out-of-the-house activities was to visit a nature center to tap maple trees. We did this in our backyard last year, but with the presence of a newborn imminent, I was happy to outsource this activity this year.

We also had the opportunity to visit their sugar house and check out the evaporator.

Silas said that his favorite part was seeing the wood burning to heat the sap.

When we got home we did a very simple evaporation/condensation experiment from our biome curriculum and he drew what he observed.

Project Work

He is still very much interested in the arctic, polar bears, and seals, although we have been less formal about making time for project work. He's turned his attention to food chains, asking what it is that seals eat (knowing that polar bears eat the seals). The books Who Eats What? and See What a Seal Can Do have been popular.

I also made this simple food chain activity to illustrate the polar bear food chain. To make it a self-correcting activity, I cut toilet paper rolls to graduated dimensions so that they nest and only fit together one way.

How have your weeks been?


  1. I love how you are spending these last few days with Silas before the wee one arrives. Best of luck and I wish you an easy time Courtney. I am so happy for your family.

    1. Oh, thank you so much Tracey! We are definitely in the middle of a very joyous time right now! :)